Verdict against plots’ allotment to judges challenged in SC – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Government Employees Housing Authority (FGEHA) on Saturday approached the Supreme Court against the Islamabad High Court’s order that suspended allotments made in favour of judicial officers who are serving or had served in the high court and district courts.

In an appeal before the SC through counsel Mohammad Akram Sheikh, the FGEHA pleaded to set aside the Aug 20 restraining order of the IHC.

In its order the high court had not only fixed the matter before a larger bench for further hearing but also expressed its surprise that in the balloting regarding allotment of plots in Islamabad Sectors F-14 and F-15, virtually every judicial officer of the district courts Islamabad, who were expected to resolve and adjudicate upon the grievances and rights of the affected land owners, was a beneficiary.

Housing authority says high court’s order has created a strong sense of concern among allottees

The high court had also held that this prima facie, raises serious questions regarding conflict of interest as the plots were given to the beneficiaries at substantially lower prices than current market rates and thus each beneficiary had financial interest. It had observed that the list of beneficiaries also included those judicial officers who had been dismissed on account of misconduct or corruption.

The FGEHA in its appeal pleaded that the IHC could not exercise suo motu jurisdiction under Article 199 of the Constitution and that the high court could only invoke this provision on the application of an aggrieved party. The authority reminded the SC that the petitioners before the high court had not challenged land acquisition.

The attention of the apex court was further drawn to the question whether the land could have been acquired for the FGEHA and after its acquisition who is entitled to get allotment of the plots carved out from the land acquired for the authority.

The FGEHA argued in its appeal that the IHC through its Aug 20 verdict had raised questions that were neither taken up by the petitioners nor any prayer to that effect was made in the writ petition. According to the appeal, this amounted to exercise of suo motu power that the high court does not have. It claimed that the IHC order was patently illegal, as it could invoke the writ jurisdiction under Article 199 either on the application of an aggrieved party or on the application of any person. The authority reminded the SC that the IHC while exercising jurisdiction under Article 199 could not travel beyond the grievance of an aggrieved party or a person.

The authority further argued that since all contentious issues being raised before the IHC had been adequately resolved with admirable clarity by the Supreme Court larger bench, the IHC order was not sustainable in law.

The FGEHA, the appeal contended, was a public institution working with the mission of providing shelter to federal government employees and retirees, but it had been made dysfunctional and being scandalized in media by vested interests.

According to the appeal, the IHC order created a strong sense of concern amongst members of FGEHA schemes and allottees across Islamabad and other capital cities, the petition reminded.

Therefore, it was imperative that the adjudication of this matter of great public importance be in line with constitutional scheme of adjudication and without any influence from the parties involved so that the FGEHA could continue its work uninterrupted and unhampered for the benefit of its members, the appeal argued.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2021

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