Petition against Bahria Town: CDA counsel resigns after declaring withdrawal of case illegal
ISLAMABAD, Nov 19: After declaring illegal the withdrawal of a petition filed with Islamabad High Court (IHC) against Bahria Town by the Capital Development Authority (CDA), a legal adviser of the civic agency resigned on Monday.
Mohammad Ramzan Chaudhry, the legal adviser, was also facing criticism for giving consent to the IHC to set up a commission to probe into the multi-billion projects of the CDA on September 10, 2012.
In a correspondence, Chaudhry informed the newly-appointed CDA chairman Tahir Shahbaz on Nov 16 that the withdrawal of the litigation by Barrister Masroor Shah, the chief legal adviser of the CDA, on April 18, 2012, was illegal. The petition was filed against launching of a housing project in Zone V. Its withdrawal enabled Bahria Town to develop the project in the zone, consisting of rural areas of Islamabad along the Soan River, he added.
It may be noted that in 2000 Bahria Town planned a housing project in Zone V and approached the CDA for obtaining approval which the latter declined.
The housing society then moved Lahore High Court (LHC)’s Rawalpindi bench in 2003 against the CDA decision. On July 8, 2004, Justice Akhtar Shabbir of the LHC directed the civic authority to approve the layout plan of the housing project.
Following the LHC single-judge order, the CDA counsel Malik Mohammad Nawaz filed an intra-court appeal the same year. The appeal said the housing society was not only developing its residential scheme without approval but also issuing plot possession letters to the clients.
It alleged that Bahria Town was violating Islamabad’s zoning regulations and did major construction in Zone V without approval.
On January 1, 2008, CDA counsel Barrister Masroor Shah and Arif Chaudhry, however, sought withdrawal of the appeal, saying the civic agency had settled the dispute with Bahria Town on May 5, 2007. The court then allowed the CDA to withdraw the appeal.
However, in 2008, the civic agency again filed an appeal, this time with the Islamabad High Court (IHC), and contended that there was no settlement with Bahria Town.
On April 18 this year, CDA counsel Barrister Masroor Shah withdrew the appeal, arguing again that the parties had reached an out-of-court settlement.
The CDA legal adviser, Ramzan Chaudhry, in his letter of November 16 to the chairman of the civic agency observed that “from the perusal of the record it has become clear that there is nothing in ‘black and white’ regarding settlement of the dispute outside the court.” He said no such document or approval of the CDA board or competent authority was available.
He maintained that the withdrawal of the review petition was neither in the interest of the authority nor the public at large. “The withdrawal of the review petition, apparently, appears to be without authorisation.”
He said the office of the CDA legal adviser was also never consulted regarding any settlement of the dispute.
He said the withdrawal of the petition be examined, probed and investigated and if agreed a petition for restoration of the case may be filed again.
When contacted by Dawn, Barrister Masroor Shah said former CDA chairman Farkhand Iqbal had ordered withdrawal of the case against Bahria Town.
“The litigation was withdrawn in April and if the act was illegal why the officials concerned remained silent for over six months,” he added.