ISLAMABAD: The owners of the One Constitution Avenue complex challenged on Wednesday the Capital Development Authority (CDA)’s decision of terminate their land lease and seal the building.
In addition, two of BNP’s owners have, through their lawyers Aitzaz Ahsan and Gohar Ali Khan, requested the court to restrain the civic body from taking any adverse action while the case is pending before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The land lease challenge will be heard by IHC Justice Athar Minallah on Thursday (today).
On August 1, the CDA informed the IHC that it had terminated a 99-year lease contract with BNP due to violations of CDA bylaws and rescheduling of outstanding dues. On July 1, the CDA had sealed the under-construction towers, part of which would become a Grand Hyatt Hotel, for various building and layout plan violations.
A CDA board meeting on July 29 decided that appropriate action should be taken against agency officials, who extended several illegal relaxations to BNP, which caused huge losses to the civic agency.
On March 9, 2005, the CDA auctioned the 13.5 acre plot on Constitution Avenue to BNP Group for Rs4.88 billion. The CDA Board handed over possession of the plot later in 2005 against a deposit of Rs800 million.
The BNP has so far paid the CDA Rs1.02 billion while the remaining Rs3.85 billion is recoverable in installments until 2026.
In the petition, the counsel said that there has been no inaction or default on the part of the petitioners. “If anyone is guilty of being remiss, it is the CDA, which has not been able to approve the design because of uncertainty [regarding its] height.”
Ahsan stated that the petitioners never unilaterally changed any terms or conditions, that the changes were fully justified by the circumstances, and that everything was done with the consent and agreement of the CDA.
Arguing over the height of the towers, he said that it was up to the CDA to obtain an NOC from the Civil Aviation Authority for the construction of the 45-storey buildings, but it failed to do so, even after the towers had gone up.
“To this day, the CDA has failed to confirm the exact height to which the towers could be constructed,” he stated.
Ahsan said that the unilateral cancellation of the lease by the CDA is illegal, unlawful and contrary to fundamental rights. He prayed the court to set aside the lease termination, unseal the building, and restrain the CDA from taking any coercive action.