LAHORE: The real estate industry of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) is soaring, as people desire land in one of the most posh areas of the city, however, the real estate development has also resulted in excessive bouncing of cheques, according to statistics available. The officials concerned say it is an uphill task for them to curb the crime effectively.

The two police stations of the housing society – Defence-A and Defence-B – host 70 officials each. Defence-A maintains law and order in its vicinity – the entire housing society – and protects around 300,000 citizens, while Defence-B takes care of around 150,000 citizens in the DHA, Alfalah, Baidian Road, Punjab Small Industry and Saqib Town.

According to data collected from the two police stations, the cases of 489-F (dishonoured cheques) are at peak. An official of Defence-A Police Station told Daily Times that around 10 to 15 cases of bounced cheques were being registered with them every month.

A Defence-B Police Station official said around 729 cases had been registered there in 2008, with an average of eight cases of bounced cheques every month.

Both officials said the practice usually occurred because the property dealers/agents tried to cheat the public.

Supreme Court Advocate Aftab Bajwa said the federal government had declared the bouncing of cheques a criminal offence through a criminal amendments ordinance seven years ago. He said that in October 2002, Section 489-F was inserted in the Pakistan Criminal Code (PCC), declaring dishonoured cheques a criminal offence by virtue of Presidential Criminal Amendments Ordinance No LXXXV. He said the crime could result in a maximum imprisonment of three years.

The section reads, “Whoever dishonestly issues a cheque towards repayment of a loan or fulfilment of an obligation, which is dishonoured on presentation, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine, or with both, unless he can establish, for which the burden of proof shall rest on him, that he had made arrangements with his bank to ensure that the cheque would be honoured and that the bank was at fault in not honouring the cheque.”

No responsibility: DHA Transfer and Record In-charge Colonel ® Shahid Latif said around 200 estate dealers had been registered in the DHA. He said the housing authority only dealt with registered dealers, and business was conducted through pay orders and drafts. He claimed no cheques were bounced at the DHA office. However, he said cases of monetary disputes were transferred to the dealers’ associations. He said the DHA itself had no power to curb the nuisance. DHA Estate Agents Association President Major ® Waseem Anwar told Daily Times that his registered members had not been involved in any cheque bouncing case. He said that around 300 dealers in the housing society were neither registered, nor member of its association.

He said the association had records of all its sellers and buyers, and had always tried to resolve their monetary disputes. He said the association could blacklist the member dealers who were involved in such practices, but could not take action against non-members.

Cantonment Superintendent of Police (SP) Captain ® Ghulam Azfar told Daily Times the majority of cases of bounced cheques was related to token or biana. He said the first preference was to resolve the cases by calling both parties. He said 50 percent of the people did not respond to a settlement offer, and a case of 489-F was lodged against the violators. He said the dispute between both parties sometimes led to serious brawls. He said he had not received any proposals from the authorities concerned on how to take action against such property dealers.

Sorce: Daily Times