Taking up the matter on a suo motu notice of the corruption in purchase of Land at Bara KAhu Islamabad , a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice(CJ) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Mohammad Sair Ali and Justice Ghulam Rabbani showed inclination to appoint the commission to probe the matter. Housing and Works federal Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat, who appeared before the court, sought an order for the recovery of the money involved in the project, saying that the entire scheme would be “frustrated” if the matter was allowed to linger on any more.
The housing ministry had purchased 3,000 kanals from a private firm named Green Tree, in Bhara Kahu (Zone-IV) at the rate of Rs950,000/kanal. But the actual market price of the land was said to be around Rs450,000/kanal.
When the land for the joint venture housing scheme between the FGEHF and Green Tree was purchased in Zone-IV in the year 2009, it has been learnt that no housing was allowed in the area. But later it was allowed by the federal cabinet with ulterior motives.
According to the agreement, the firm initially provided 1,600 kanals on the Simly Dam Road, which was to be extended up to 3,000 kanals. The company was to also arrange for the transfer of clear, title free land from all encumbrances and charges, in favour of the FGEHF.
Mr Faisal, who had also brought instances of corruption in the rental power projects before the court, told the bench that his ministry had engaged Advocate Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb as the legal counsel, saying the PMLQ joined the federal govt “only to provide relief to the people”.
Acknowledging corruption in the housing scheme, the minister stated that he had formed a committee to probe into the allegations and report back to him in 10 days but he added the committee suggested as the case is pending suo motu notice before the Supreme Court(SC), it could not hold inquiry.
Why not, the chief justice observed, saying everything should not come to the apex court. If the dept can take up its responsibility, the court would discharge the proceedings, the chief justice observed.
In a guarded language, the minister alleged that this corruption scam showed glaring example of mismanagement and no transparency in all transactions carried out in this connection. He said Rs1.5billion had already been paid “in advance” by the ministry“ out of Rs3 billion “ to the company to acquire these 3,000 kanals.
The company`s two shareholders are the brother and father of an executive director of the Housing Foundation, the minister said.
“I have the authority to cancel the entire project but this would let the amount to get stuck,” the minister said. He requested the court to issue directives for the amount`s recovery as it did in so many other graft cases. “This leads us to think as if there is a bottomless well of corruption,” Justice Ali observed and asked the minister to suggest some way out.
The minister suggested appointment of a commission headed by a retired SC judge like Justice Chaudhry Ijaz, saying it would be advisable because many senior bureaucrats were involved in the scam.
The court however was of the view that Khawaja Zaheer, who was also the member of the Flood Inquiry Commission, be appointed as head of the proposed commission. The court however decided to issue a final order when the matter is taken up again on June 30.
During the proceedings, the court was also told that the parties involved in the case were ready to negotiate to reach for an “amicable settlement”.