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ISLAMABAD: Judges get plots of their choice

ISLAMABAD: Several critical files containing the official record of high-priced government plots allotted to the bigwigs of Islamabad, including the next expected Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Sardar Raza Khan, are missing after evidence surfaced that in Justice Raza’s case, the process of balloting was scrapped and he was given a multimillion rupees corner plot of his choice a few months back.

In what seems to be unheard of, the Federal Government Employees’ Housing Foundation (FGEHF) tampered with the official record to allot the best available corner plot in the D-12 Sector to Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan.

But Justice Raza Khan, when contacted by The News, said on Thursday he did not know of what had happened in the Foundation and who had tampered with the official files. However, he did confirm to this correspondent that he had made a written request to Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar for the allotment of a plot of his choice.

Being the senior most judge, Raza Khan argued, he had made the request. He applied for the plot because his brother judges, including the CJ, were given plots of their choosing after they personally visited the site, he added.

As far as the FGEHF is concerned, what really adds to this drama is yet another hard fact – the tampered file has vanished from the official record, with the authorities claiming the former director-general had got it disappeared to push the issue under the rug and save his skin for this wrongdoing. However, the DG’s counter-claim is that the file is not in his possession, and that it has been removed from the official record by those involved in this unique fraudulent activity.

On the basis of the balloting done in the presence of senior FGEHF officials for the allotment of three available plots to as many senior judges of the apex court, provisional letters as per the results were sent through the Foundation’s dispatch rider (DR).

However, the DR was recalled immediately while he was on his way to the Supreme Court and directed not to deliver the provisional allotment letters. Later, the very paper sheet of the Foundation’s Dispatch Register, which contained the entry of the letters dispatched, was smartly torn off – something that speaks volumes for what was done to the official document.

Later, the matter was referred to the Supreme Court, which conveyed to the Foundation as to who amongst the three judges should be allotted which numbers. Accordingly, the Foundation issued the revised provisional allotment letters, giving Justice Raza the choice corner plot in the best available location.

There is nothing in the official record, made available to The News, to establish whether the tampering with and undoing of the balloting was done under external pressures. But Justice Raza had the grace to acknowledge he had received from the Foundation the map of the D-12 Sector to choose the plot of his choice, as was done by other judges including the CJ.

Raza added there was no question of getting into the balloting for plot allotments in their case because Supreme Court judges – Justices Dogar, Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, Javed Nawaz Abbasi, Syed Saeed Ashad and Javed Buttar, all of whom had taken oath under PCO on Nov 3, 2007 and had a minimum two years of service in the apex court – were allotted choice plots last year. Being the senior most among the three judges who were to be allotted plots, he had the right to make his choice and therefore he did the same, he maintained.

Justice Raza recalled he formally wrote to Chief Justice Dogar and referred to how they were allotted plots; his request was thus granted. Consequently, in compliance with the CJ’s orders, he was allotted the plot of his choice. Unaware of what had happened to the Foundation record, he insisted the balloting was unjustified and done to favour someone.

While it is an open-and-shut case for those sitting in the Supreme Court, the Foundation is faced with an extremely complex situation. Not only its official record has been tampered with and DR book’s sheet torn off, the relevant file has also been removed in a move that adds to the complexity and mystery of the issue.

Documents reveal the Supreme Court, through its Registrar Raja Lehrasab Khan, wrote to the Secretary Housing on November 5, 2008, conveying the names of five judges for the allotment of additional residential plots in Islamabad in line with government policy and as has been the case of federal secretaries.

The five names communicated to the government in order of seniority are Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tassaduq Hasnain Jillani, Justice Nasirul Mulk and Justice Syed Jamshed Ali.

When the matter was referred to the Foundation, it was found out that the FGEHF had only three plots available in D-12 Sector against the judges’ quota. Therefore, it was decided the three available plots should be allotted to the three senior most judges – Justice Raza, Justice Jillani and Justice Shakirullah Jan.

Former FGEH Director Syed Gulzar Hasnain told The News that on November 21 (Friday), he was asked by then DG Arshad Mirza to immediately make the allotments to the three judges. Hasnain said the same afternoon he sat with his Deputy Director Nauman Shah and Assistant Director Muhammad Ali Shah and did the balloting without knowing who amongst the three judges was allotted which plot. Both Nauman and Shah, when approached by this correspondent, endorsed Hasnain’s version.

On the morning of Nov 22, the three confirmed Foundation DR Muhammad Iftikhar was officially handed over three provisional allotment letters for the three judges in accordance with balloting results. DR Iftikhar was dispatched to deliver the documents but halfway he was asked to return to the office. DR Iftikhar also confirmed this and later submitted the whole episode in writing.

All the three officials concerned – the director, the deputy director and the assistant director – unanimously claimed when DG Mirza was told on Nov 22 that the balloting had been done and provisional allotments issued, he ordered the immediate recall of the DR. After checking the map of the sector and comparing it with the balloting results, it was revealed the corner plot was allotted to Justice Jillani, the second best plot in to Justice Raza while Justice Shakirullah was given one in front of a graveyard.

Seeing this, the DG reportedly ordered Director Gulzar Hasnain to change the plot numbers in a manner that the corner plot was allotted to Justice Raza. All the three officers and even the DG confirmed the noting portion of the file regarding the Nov 21 balloting and the Nov 22 dispatch of provisional allotment letters – issued and later revoked – were tinkered with and a white paper sheet pasted on the selected portions of the file.

Hasnain alleged he was forced into changing the balloting results accordingly after the file tampering, but he refused to do that and offered what he could do was to propose either re-balloting or referring the case to the Supreme Court to decide the matter internally.

As they could not agree, Hasnain did not know what happened afterwards. However, according to Deputy Director Nauman Shah, days after Hasnain’s refusal, he was called by the DG, who provided him a chit explaining who should be allotted which plot. He was also informed by the DG the chit had come from the Supreme Court.

Shah submitted the file to DG Sikandar Mirza, as the official record (Foundation’s diaries) suggests. Later on, afresh allotment letters were issued, under which the corner plot was given to Justice Raza. Justice Jillani got the one in a 70-foot-wide street while Justice Shakirullah received one in front of a graveyard.

The irregularity committed in the process was the tearing off of the relevant paper sheet of the Foundation Dispatch Register. This reporter has got the video of the register, clearly showing that the paper was smartly removed through a cutter but still it speaks volumes for the fraud committed.

DR Muhammad Iftikhar gave in writing that he handed over the letters to AD Muhammad Ali after he was re-called. Later, the PA to the DG came to him and collected the Dispatch Register, saying Arshad Mirza had sought it. When the Dispatch register was returned to him, Ali said he found out that the page containing the entry of the originally dispatched letters had been removed.

Almost a month back, Mirza was replaced by Sher Afzal. It was later found out the file tampered with was missing. All in the Foundation including its present DG point an accusing finger at Mirza, who vehemently denies having the file. He believes one of his subordinates must have got the file disappeared.

Mirza pointed out the Nov 21 balloting was done without his consent and against the established norm: the Supreme Court itself should have decided as to who should be allotted which plot. Mirza charged one of his subordinates had relations with a party interested in the balloting. The DG reiterated he was not involved personally in the removal of dispatch register sheet. He said that too was done by his juniors.

Former secretary housing Samiul Haq Khilji claimed asking Mirza twice to send him the file, now missing, but the latter did not obey his orders. Mirza disclosed other files concerning anomalies of some senior former officials of the Housing Ministry as well as those sitting in the Foundation were also missing. After he left the Foundation, Mirza revealed, highly controversial plot allotments were made including to a journalist.

The incumbent DG and Mirza’s successor Sher Afzal Khan also wrote to the secretary housing, saying four files, including the one tampered with, were missing from the official record. He wrote: File No 10(1)/PMS-06-HF is the file relating to allotment of plots to the honourable judges of the Supreme Court and there is evidence to the fact that Mr Arshad Mirza had tried to play unfair means and had tampered with the allotment process for certain reasons.

File No 10(5)/94-HF related to allotment of plot to Syed Gulzar Hasnain, former director (estate) with whom Mirza had developed animosity. Likewise File No 1(S-22)/93-HF relates to the allotment of plot to Samiul Haq Khilji, former secretary housing, who had surrendered the services of Mirza twice, while File No 3/3/08-DE(HF) pertains to a proposed housing scheme in Lahore.

The incumbent DG sought intervention from the secretary housing to get these files returned by Mirza, who categorically denied having anyone of them. He, however, said his noting on all the files hurt the powerful. Meanwhile it is also learnt while Mirza is related to Justice Raza, Nauman Shah has association with Justice Jillani.

Sorce: The News

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