IHC rules against land purchase for govt housing scheme

  • Judges declare move a classic example of deviating from law, violating constitutional guarantees, compromising state assets for personal gain, interest

ISLAMABAD: A two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) upheld an earlier verdict rendered by its single bench, terming the acquisition of the land for a government employees housing scheme illegal.

Terming acquisition of the land for the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) in Sectors F-14 and F-15 illegal, Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani declared the move a classic example of deviating from law, violating constitutional guarantees, compromising state assets for personal gain and interest.

“The principle of ‘you cannot rob Paul to pay Peter’ applies in this case. The benefit should be drawn for a community of the federal government servants in accordance with the terms of objectives of the housing foundation,” the judgment stated. During the hearing, the judges observed that FGEHF paid huge sums to various individuals for acquiring land and even the federal government servants who deposited their money against their allotments.

It directed the FGEHF to decide about what to do regarding payments it received from federal government employees for allotments within a period of 30 days. It told the foundation to decide whether they want to return the amount or otherwise. According to the judgment, the process of acquiring land was in violation of the law from the first day as the very purpose behind the acquisition proceedings of areas in F-14 and F-15 are against the scope of Section 11 and 12 of the CDA Ordinance of 1960.

The judges stated that officials of the CDA, the Ministry of Housing and Works and other officials involved in this process had no authority to deviate from the law and create an interest. They said that every step taken towards the acquisition of [land in] F-14 and F-15 was illegal and void.

The judgment said that FGEHF had been established with a specific objective that did not cover private individuals and any scheme prepared by FGEHF for providing housing facility to its members has to be seen as a private interest. It said that FGEHF was allowed to buy any piece of land from open market for their scheme, but when they used state machinery with a limited objective under the companies law, “their entire working must be seen in the light of their objective only, and the purpose for which the land was acquired was too limited to hold that the same would be used for public purpose”.

The Regulation 5 encompassed residential plots and developed sectors in which 75 per cent of plots shall be marketed through open balloting, 10 per cent to federal government servants and employees of autonomous and semi-autonomous organisations, five per cent to defence service personnel, five per cent to deprived groups, including widows and orphans, and the remaining five per cent to the CDA employees.

Both the regulations were violated by the CDA when it issued an ‘LOP’ to the FGEHF that resulted in conversion of quota beyond the scheme of the Islamabad Land Disposal Regulations of 2005, the judgment stated. Similarly, it said if the FGEHF intended to include other classes of people such as doctors, engineers, teachers and businessmen, it could do so after amending their objectives in accordance with the law.

The division bench also declared that the decision to acquire land for the FGEHF in both these sectors was illegal. Pronouncing its judgment, the IHC dismissed all intra-court appeals.