SC adjourns Pakpattan land case hearing against Nawaz till next week

Nawaz Sharif

ISLAMABAD: A three member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has adjourned the hearing of Pakpattan land allotment case till next week.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who appeared before the court today rejected allegations against him. He said since the matter is thirty two years old, he cannot recall the whole matter.
Nawaz Sharif is facing the charge that being the Chief Minister of Punjab, he allegedly alloted Auqaf land around Pakpattan to an individual in violation of high court order.
Nawaz appeared before the apex court in a 33-year old case involving illegal allotment of Auqaf Department’s land, measuring about 14,400 kanals in Pakpattan, to an individual, Dewan Ghulam Qutab, in 1985-86 in violation of a Lahore High Court order.
The precious Auqaf land is situated around revered Sufi saint Baba Faridud Din Ganj Shakar’s shrine in Pakpattan. According to the Punjab Auqaf Department’s lawyer Syed Zaheer Sagheer, Nawaz Sharif has been accused of illegally transferring Auqaf’s land to Dewan Ghulam Qutab.
This was the time when Nawaz was serving as the Punjab chief Minister. In November 2018, in his written reply, Nawaz Sharif had told the court that the then chief administrator, Yousuf Khan, had issued a notification for land transfer without taking him into confidence.
Sharif had contended in his reply that nothing in the afore-mentioned notification had suggested that it was issued on the orders of the then Punjab chief minister. In response to the court’s order, Sharif’s Counsel, Munawar Iqbal, had prayed that his client (Nawaz Sharif) did not recall having ever passed any such order attributed to him.
He had added: “The Chief Administrator of Auqaf had actually issued a notification of withdrawal by exercising his own powers and nothing in this notification suggests that it was done on the orders of the then Punjab Chief Minister.”
The chief justice had then asked Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer: “Have you ever met Nawaz Sharif?” The counsel had stated: “I have met my client regarding the matter.” The chief justice said if Nawaz Sharif had not given the order and fraud had been committed, the matter could be referred to NAB for filing of a reference against him.
The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had then rejected Nawaz Sharif’s written statement and had asked him to appear before the court on December 4 in the Pakpattan shrine land case.
During the November hearing, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, had asked: “Was permission given to construct stores on the Auqaf Department’s land? And if yes, then under which law was the permission granted?”
The chief justice had also asked as to who was the Auqaf secretary of the time when the land was allotted? The chief justice had asserted: “We will issue a notice to him as well.” Additional Advocate General Punjab had informed the chief justice that the then Auqaf secretary had passed away.
Meanwhile, Auqaf Department’s lawyer, Syed Zaheer Sagheer, told Jang Group and Geo Television Network that in 2015, former chief justice Nasirul Mulk had actually taken a suo motu notice of illegal allotment of the shrine land to individuals in 1985 in violation of the LHC order.
He maintained: “The land is worth billions of rupees today. The Auqaf Department is basically contending that despite its resistance more than three decades ago, Nawaz Sharif had issued a directive through the Chief Minister’s Secretariat to allot this land to the Dewan family of Pakpattan.
The former Punjab chief minister has denied any wrongdoing in the court, but the fact remains that the Auqaf Department had sent him a summary whereby expressing its reservations about giving back the state land to the custodiansof Hazrat Baba Farid’s shrine for personal commercial interests.”
Zaheer had gone on to say: “During the late 1960’s, when the Auqaf Department had retrieved this state land from the Dewans, they had moved court. They had first lost the case in lower court and then the Lahore High Court had ruled against them. After losing the initial litigation bouts, the Dewans had then contacted the-then Punjab Chief Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1985-86, who had consented to their request and the land was given back to the Dewans by the government on his directives. The Chief Minister’s Secretariat had ordered to release of confiscated land to the Dewans and the Chief Administrator of the time had acted on orders of Nawaz Sharif. The Dewans had then sold the property and a few tenants had moved the Supreme Court of Pakistan that Auqaf land cannot be sold out by private individuals. This is when the-then Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk had taken a suo motu in this case. How can a chief minister absolve himself of his responsibility and shrug shoulders when a notification involving land worth billions was issued right under his nose by his personal staff?”.

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