Chief Justice Saqib Nisar asked how the railway department, which is a part of the Centre, can sell Sindh government’s land.
He was hearing the suo motu case pertaining to the lease and allotment of Sindh’s land at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry on Tuesday. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Munib Akhtar were the other two members of the bench.
The top judge was irked over the Pakistan Railways’ allotment of land in City Colony. “The Sindh government had allotted this land to Pakistan Railways for the purpose of expanding railway infrastructure,” he remarked. “How can they sell or lease out this land? Advocate-General sahib, please tell us if Pakistan Railways can lease out the Sindh government’s land.”
Justice Shah remarked that the Sindh High Court is also hearing numerous cases against the railway department. The court issued notices to the Sindh government and other respondents.
The bench also heard more than 40 petitions regarding allotment of land for commercial purposes. “Qabza [occupation] mafia has eaten up the entire country,” remarked Justice Nisar. “It is our responsibility to protect the state.”
We will not allow the unjust distribution of government land, he said. “We will decide in accordance with the law regarding everything that has been happening in Sindh,” he said. “We will ensure the transparency of land allotment.”
According to the top judge, plots were distributed without auction. “One page says ‘No to Corruption’ on top while everyone commits corruption under that,” he said to the lawyer of a wind power project.
“Under which law is government land being allotted in Sindh?” remarked the CJ. “This is all corruption. We will not allow it.”
The CJ remarked that each Pakistani bears a burden of Rs117,000 in debt. “Vested interests will continue but it’s our responsibility to ensure the protection of the state and its interests,” he said.
Lawyers told the court that poultry farms are being shut down as they are not being granted lease extensions.
“All of these are excuses to get leniency from the court,” remarked the CJ. “When we banned high-rise buildings, they said that industries will shut down because of this.”
The CJ said that whoever wants government land, they should participate in the auction. “We will not allow anyone to obtain land with auction,” he said. He reprimanded the revenue department’s secretary for unjust distribution of government land.
The court ordered lawyers and Board of Revenue secretary to come prepared on the next hearing. The hearing was adjourned till Wednesday.