Why Supreme Court has rejected Rs 358 billion offer from Bahria Town?
ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Tuesday again rejected the offer of Bahria Town to pay Rs 358 billion for the legalization of its housing society in Karachi and to avoid legal proceedings for illegally acquired land. A three-judge special bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed was hearing a case pertaining to the implementation on a May 4, 2014 SC verdict against Bahria Town. The bench while terming the housing society's settlement offer to regularize the land unsatisfactory, directed Bahria Town to reconsider its offer. The apex cour, in its May 4 judgement, had declared that the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority (MDA) and its subsequent swap with land owned by Bahria Town was illegal and void. It had also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to continue its probe into the business practices employed by the developer. During the course of proceedings, Barrister Ali Zafar, counsel for Bahria Town, apprised the bench that his client was ready to pay Rs 315 billion in return for the legalization of all 16,896 acres of land in question. They could not pay more than Rs 350 billion in total, he added. Justice Saeed observed that Rs 315 billion was the price Bahria Town should pay for just 7,068 acres of land while it was the matter of 16,896 acres. Moreover, Rs 250 billion fine imposed on the society was a separate matter, he added. To which, the counsel made the final offer of Rs 358 billion. Justice Saeed, however, dismissed the offer, observing,"We are not selling tomatoes here. Go back and reconsider your proposal." The court observed that it would hear the stance of federal and Sindh governments as well as that of NAB on the matter before ruling on it on next date of hearing. It also directed the Deputy Commissioner Malir to regain control of all government land within two weeks and submit a compliance report, warning him to be ready for an inquiry by NAB if he failed to do so. The court also summoned owner of Prism, an authorized dealer of Bahria Town, on next date of hearing to clarify his position regrading allegations that it was selling the land in Karachi which did not come under the demarcation of society. It may be added that on previous hearing, the Supreme Court had also dismissed the offer of Bahria Town to deposit Rs 250 billion in the apex court's dam fund to avoid legal proceedings. Its counsel had first offered Rs 200 billion to waive off charges against the real estate developer for its projects in Karachi, Islamabad and Murree.
He then raised the offer to Rs 250 billion, when Justice Saeed observed that three separate verdicts had been passed against Bahria Town, so it should pay reasonable amount of fine separately for for each case.