–8,000 kanals of Pakpattan shrine’s land was sold to Dewan Ghulam Qutab when Sharif was Punjab CM in 1985
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday issued a notice to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif in a suo motu case pertaining to the illegal construction of shops on Pakpattan shrine’s land in 1985, when he was the chief minister of Punjab.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar heard the suo motu case as the additional advocate general Punjab and Dewan Ghulam Qutab’s lawyer Iftikhar Gilani appeared before the court for the hearing.
During the hearing, the bench was informed that 8,000 kanals of land of the Pakpattan shrine belonging to the Auqaf department was sold to Dewan Ghulam Qutab as per an order in 1985.
“However, the Auqaf department later declared it a charitable endowment and a court judgement has also been passed in this regard,” the bench was further told.
The chief justice inquired: “Was permission given to construct stores on the Auqaf department’s land 29 years ago? And if yes, then under which law was the permission granted?”
CJP asked who was the Auqaf secretary in 1985, and said a notification should be issued to him as well.
The Punjab additional advocate general informed the top judge: “The then Auqaf secretary has passed away.”
“Under which law was the notification taken back?”
To this, the defence counsel said, “The land was taken back as per the same authority under which it was given.”
“After 29 years, the top court is stating that the notification was unconstitutional,” he added.
“The SC had the authority to say that and is the protector of the Constitution,” the CJP claimed.
However, the lawyer stated, “The people of Pakistan are the protectors of its constitution and the SC is also answerable to the law and Constitution.” In response, the top judge rebuked the lawyer and told him to mind his tone during court proceedings.
“In such circumstances, I will request that you do not hear my cases.”
However, Justice Nisar said, “I will hear your cases. Whenever you come to court you attack it and think that judges are your children.”
Dewan Qutub’s lawyer then said, “If you want to issue notices then issue them to all owners of such properties across Pakistan. There are 8,000 such people.”
In response, the CJP stated, “We will issue notices to everyone.”
The bench adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period.
As per the revenue record from 1947 to 1958, Dewan Ghulam Qutab and his family were considered owners of the shrine’s land.
The family sold the land to different people until Jan 1, 1970, when the Punjab government notified that Auqaf Department as the rightful owner of the land and assigned Dewans the role of custodian of the shrine. When Dewans moved the court, the Lahore High Court decided against them.
In 1986, the government withdrew its 1970 notification and the Dewans reciprocated by withdrawing their appeal from the Lahore High Court against the decision.
This withdrawal of notification allowed the Dewans to resume their land selling business and the revenue department issued ownership rights (fard) to all buyers.
However, a 1981 case regarding 17 marlas land filed in a civil court reached the Supreme Court by 2015. The apex court chief justice took suo moto notice of the land deals of the shrine and summoned officials of the revenue and auqaf departments and the Dewans.
After some hearings, the Supreme Court declared notification of Aug 28, 1986, illegal and nullified all land deals done since then. The decision reportedly affected 100,000 residents of different localities.
The Dewans filed a review petition with the Supreme Court against its 2015 decision which remained pending.