The Gun Club lacks ‘legal legs’ to stand on: SC
ISLAMABAD, Jan 8: A three member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, on Tuesday, questioned the legality of the elite sporting facility ‘The Gun Club’.
During the Supreme Court proceedings, questions were also raised about the administration and functioning of the club.
On Tuesday, the apex court questioned how an elite club could be constructed on government land without a legal statute.
“Prima facie, the body running the affairs of the club had no statutory rules,” the three-member bench of the Supreme Court concluded, adding either the club be handed over to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) or to the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB).
“The resolution under which the club was created had no legal legs to stand on,” observed Justice Gulzar Ahmed. While Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed lamented that the facility had been turned into a private luxury club.
The apex court had taken a suo motu notice on a news report, on October 2011, regarding allotment of 72 acres of land worth billions of rupees to the Gun Club at the low rate of Rs10 million per acre.
The club was originally built on PSB’s land and was established in November 18, 2002 through a Gun Club Resolution 2002, which was subsequently notified by the now devolved Ministry of Sports, Culture and Tourism, under the 18th amendment.
Earlier, on June 18, 2011, the CDA Board after careful considerations acceded to the sports ministry’s request to the Authority for the execution of the lease deal for the 72 acres of land directly between the Gun Club and the Authority.
In 1977, land measuring 145 acres were allotted to the Pakistan Sports Boad (PSB) in Zone A of the federal capital, reserved in the Master Plan for sports and recreation purposes. Of the 145 acres, 44 acres, presently houses the Gun Club’s shooting ranges at the Pakistan Sports Complex.
The apex court also expressed surprise over the appointment of Faisal Sakhi Butt, a close friend of President Asif Ali Zardari, as the administrator of the Gun Club.
“It would have been much better if some Olympian would have been appointed as the administrator,” the chief justice lamented.
Mr Nizamuddin, a representative of the Gun Club informed the court that Faisal Butt was appointed in 2010 by the president, replacing General (retired) Arif Hassan, the incumbent President of the Pakistan Olympic Association, who served as the club’s administrator for nine long years.
Usually the term of the administrators lasts for two years only, but the current administrator is honourary and does not draw any salary, Mr Nizamuddin explained.
“Government property does not belong to the president, the federal government or the cabinet,” Justice Gulzar observed whereas the chief justice recalled that this project was originally meant for the welfare of sports and sportsmen.
“Our country is a welfare state, keep this in your mind,” the chief justice said while pointing towards Nizamuddin, adding that this facility was not for the elite class but for ordinary people.
Justice Azmat was also surprised as why the state was subsidising for the privileged class but should raise buildings on the grounds meant for the less privileged segments of society.
“If you want to develop a private facility, go and buy land according to the CDA rules,” Justice Azmat remarked.
In addition to the administrator, the committee also consists of five government nominees, including secretaries of Capital Administration Development Division (CADD), interior, commerce, chairman CDA, Director-General PSB and one member of the diplomatic corp (currently Argentinean ambassador).
The committee also comprised four members nominated by the administrator. Currently Mohsin Jameel Beg, General (retired) Zarar Azeem, Major (retired) Furqan Saleem and Sikander Ali Durrani are the members.
The club has 495 members while the membership fee of the club is Rs600,000.
Surprisingly none of the members of the club who had paid the fee is on the administration committee, said Justice Azmat.
Meanwhile Advocate Raja Mohammad Irshad submitted a reply on behalf of the administrator explaining that since its inception, the club has not only hosted several
international and national shooting events successfully but has also patronised local and regional events to develop shooting, as a sporting event in Pakistan, which is an Olympic sport.
The court postponed further proceedings for Wednesday, when the court is expected to come up with a final verdict.