DHA to be asked to review controlled area notification


The Punjab government has oiled its muscles to formally ask the military-controlled Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Lahore to review the controversial Controlled Area Prevention of Unauthorised Construction and Imposition of Reasonable Restriction Regulation 2009 notification, which as per interpretation of the Punjab government has gone beyond the legal jurisdiction granted to DHA, Lahore. Decision to this effect was taken on recommendations of two high-powered committees, consisting of more than half a dozen higher officials of the Punjab governmentl. These committees were constituted by the Punjab CM. Available documents brought on surface the reasons of bringing the Punjab government at a conflicting path with the DHA, as the two committees clearly showed major concerns that if the status quo was allowed to prevail than at least 38 housing schemes of the LDA would go into direct control of DHA, Lahore. LDA officials came up with their side of the story and showed areas affected by the controversial DHA Ordinance. LDA seemed worst affected as the fate of 38 of its schemes, including LDA Avenue-1, now hangs in the balance after proclamation of the ordinance. DHA had notified a certain area as controlled in its 2009 notification, which basically dealt with planning, development and provision of housing facilities and regulation of DHA. The matters pertaining to DHA squarely fell within domain of the provinces. The extended limits of DHA, Lahore that resulted from the notification converted the city into a hotchpotch with every city managing institution demanding its share in the pie. The extended limits encompassed Burki Road, Ring Road, Village Tara and Village Mandiawala from North BRB Canal on the East, Hudiara Drain from The South and Ferozepur Road and Ruhi Nalla on the West. The DHA notification restricted individuals or groups to carry out any activity without by-passing DHA. It also prohibited individuals to launch any housing scheme or cooperative society without prior permission of DHA. The notification even gives the right to enter upon the land of the so-called ‘Controlled Area’ for inspection to DHA bosses. The notification also bars owners to construct structure without prior permission. The notification imposed other stringent measures under its ‘Controlled Area. The CM was not satisfied with this situation and convinced that the situation will allow DHA Lahore to outclass other institutions, particularly LDA, on account of establishing model housing schemes and would deprive him to get any political gain in the forthcoming elections and formed a high-powered committee to examine the legal aspects and factual position regarding boundary matters pertaining to DHA. The high-powered committee deliberated on the issue at length and resolved to form two separate committees one headed by the law secretary to prepare a report on the legal aspect while another committee under chairmanship of the commissioner was tasked with preparing a report on the factual position. The law secretary committee report revealed that DHA, Lahore was initially constituted under Punjab’s law, the DHA, Lahore Ordinance 1999. Later, the DHA, Lahore Order 2002 was enacted pursuant to the Proclamation of Emergency. The ordinance repealed the said Punjab Ordinance. The committee found under the existing constitutional arrangement, the subject fell within the domain of the province. The sub-committee constituted under chairmanship of the commissioner to examine the factual site position, transformed the notification on the map and prepared the list of mouzas being affected by it. After thorough brainstorming, the committee made the startling revelation that DHA had actually gone way beyond its legal authority and incorporated the mouzas, which were not under its domain. The committee concluded that jurisdiction of DHA was confined to specified areas ie the areas consisting the land acquired by, or leased to, DHA before or after commencement of the order. Since the order extended only to the specified areas, the DHA notification traveled beyond its jurisdiction hence ultra vires and of no legal effect. The committee proposed to the provincial government to ask the law department to prepare a reference asking DHA to review the notification, as it traveled way beyond the jurisdiction granted to it by the DHA Controlled Area Prevention of Unauthorised Constructions and Imposition of Reasonable Restriction Regulations 2009.