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Supreme Court forms commission to look after Bahria Town funds

Centre and Sindh were eyeing the funds

SAMAA | - Posted: Oct 20, 2020 | Last Updated: 8 months ago
Posted: Oct 20, 2020 | Last Updated: 8 months ago

The Supreme Court has formed a commission that will be responsible for disbursing the funds being deposited by the Bahria Town Ltd Karachi as a penalty for illegally acquiring land near Super Highway.

The court approved the request of the attorney general to form a commission as both the federal government and the Sindh government had their eyes on the funds.

The commission will comprise 11 members and its head will be picked by the top court. Sindh governor and chief minister will be included in it along with the attorney general, accountant general, Sindh advocate general, chief secretary, provincial finance secretary, a senior member of the Sindh’s revenue board, and a representative of the auditor general office. Two social workers will be a part of it too.

The commission will have the authority to approve development projects in Sindh and assign funds for it. The court has said that the funds won’t be spent on the projects that are already underway in the province.

The real estate giant has so far deposited Rs57 billion of the Rs460 billion it is supposed to deposit in an account set up by the Supreme Court for illegally acquiring 16,896 acres of land off Karachi’s Super Highway.

*The story above was posted in 2018 when the Supreme Court had barred Bahria Town from selling any plots. Click on the picture to read it.

On March 21, 2019 Pakistan’s top court had accepted Bahria Town’s offer to pay Rs460 billion for the land it illegally acquired. It did not include Bahria Town’s Sports City project. People who bought plots in the project will be reimbursed or merged into other projects.

On May 4, 2018 the court had ruled that the Malir Development Authority illegally granted the land to Bahria Town. The Sindh government had allotted the land to the MDA to build a housing scheme. The MDA, however, exchanged the land with Bahria Town. Bahria Town was even barred from selling any plots or apartments in the housing scheme.

Bahria Town has made several proposals to get the land transferred to it. The court had rejected all those offers.

Sindh seeks Bahria Town funds

On August 30, 2019 the Sindh government filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan seeking the sum deposited by Bahria Town.

In its petition, the provincial government stated that the province is currently facing budget deficit. It said that during the last fiscal year, the federation only issued Rs9 billion out of Rs14 billion to the province in the Public Sector Development Programme.

The provincial government stated that the ongoing development projects are feared to be delayed because of the financial problems facing the province.

It requested the court to hand it over the money deposited by Bahria Town given the current economic situation of the province.

The petition further moved the court to also grant any future payments by the real estate giant to the Sindh government. It said that all this money would be spent through a supervisory committee.

Federal government’s claim

The federal government had submitted on August 22, 2019 an application in the apex court requesting deposition of all the money paid by Bahria Town in its account.

“It is prayed that the entire money deposited by the Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd and held by the Supreme Court may be ordered to be deposited in the ‘public account of the federal government’,” it read.

The petition said that the money submitted to high courts and the Supreme Court becomes part of the federal government’s public funds.

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