ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Secretary Punjab Auqaf Department to submit a comprehensive report within four weeks over the property attached so far and the land retrieved from illegally occupants, besides, further measures to secure it.
The department was ordered to take necessary action wherever it was required to retrieve its land from illegal occupants.
The two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Ghulam Rabbani issued the directive after resuming hearing of a plea moved by Muhammad Boota, custodian of a shrine of Baba Noor Shah, over occupying of its land for Ashiana Housing Scheme (AHS) by the Punjab government.
The bench also directed Advocate General Punjab Khawaja Harris that he was required to satisfy it over the question whether under Sections 15 and 16 of the Punjab Property Act, the lands could be overtaken.
The bench in its order asked the competent authority of Punjab Auqaf Department to accelerate proceedings in accordance with law against the responsible people.
The authorities were directed to take up the cases pending in Courts and make a request to the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court through Registrar for early disposal of these cases.
The bench in its order made it clear that the authorities concerned should ensure that income from the shrine land would be spent on welfare and benefits of the general public.
At the outset of proceedings, the Advocate General (AG) said that welfare projects from the income of land leased out near the shrine could be utilized.
He informed that Ashiana Housing Scheme was a project for low-income people as the Punjab government had invested Rs2 billion on the project.
The Chief Justice observed that every effort should be made to develop the shrine.
He told the AG to satisfy them in writing that the scheme would be in accordance with law after which they would pass an appropriate order.
The AG said that there was total of 40 kanal land where the devotees stayed and the welfare projects could be initiated in the name of shrine.
Representatives of the Auqaf Department apprised the bench that for launch of welfare projects, the scattered land could be used.
The AG to a bench’s query replied that there was a total of 90 kanals of scattered land in the area.
He said that the Punjab government had acquired 672 kanal land of Darbar Baba Noor Shah after allotting 2835-kanal land as substitute.
Tariq Mahmood, counsel for the Punjab Land Department, said that the income from the leased out of 40 plots had increased as they received Rs 4.4 million as profit, whereas 5 more plots would also be leased out.
On last date of hearing, the bench had cancelled the stay order with the condition that the provincial government could continue construction work on its own responsibility and if the judgment would be delivered against it then it would be bound to remove the construction on shrine place.
The petitioner had moved a plea saying that the government of Punjab had occupied the shrine’s land for building houses and carrying out other construction related activities at the Ashiana Housing Scheme.
He maintained that the land belonged to their forefathers but in 1961, the Auqaf Department had taken over the possession.