Cops given a month to leave CDA flats

ISLAMABAD: The apex civic authority in the capital has been given a month by the apex court to clear government-built flats in Sector G-6 Aabpara from the illegal possession of some Islamabad Police officers.

The order came as a division bench of the Supreme Court (SC), headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJ) Mian Saqib Nisar heard a case regarding the illegal occupation of Capital Development Authority (CDA) flats in Sector G-6 Aabpara.

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During Wednesday’s hearing, the SC warned illegal occupants that if they failed to comply with the court’s eviction orders, the court would be forced to summon the Rangers and forcibly evict occupants of these flats.

“The constitution allows us to summon the Rangers,” CJP Nisar remarked.

The SC bench also directed Housing Secretary and the Islamabad Inspector General Police (IGP) to devise within 15 days a mechanism for clearing government residences from illegal occupation — whether by police officers or by employees of other government departments.

During the hearing, the Housing secretary told the bench that a shortage of enforcement staff was the biggest hurdle they faced in evacuating of flats from illegal possession.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and former law minister Farooq Naek, who is assisting the court in the case as an amicus curiae, told the bench that even when he was the law minister, it was a problem for them to wrest control of flats occupied by certain police officials.

The Additional Attorney General (AAG) said that 114 flats were handed over to police to house them as the Lal Masjid operation was conducted in 2007. Some police officers, he said, had retained occupation of the flats despite being asked to leave.

Justice Ejazul Ahsan remarked that in March 2013, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had ordered illegal occupants to vacate all government flats. Five years on, some police officers continue to occupy the flats illegally.

The AAG, though, suggested that those policemen, who were living with their families, should be given a month to relocate. Those who are living as bachelors, though, must be dislodged immediately.

The proceedings were briefly halted and then resumed as the AAG told the court that police officers were adamant that they would not vacate flats even though they owe the state Rs350 million in outstanding dues.

The AAG further said that on directions of the court, they had severed power and other utility connections to the apartment blocks. However, even this did not flush out the illegal residents.

Moreover, he said that one resolution to the issue was to formally allot the flats to the police officers and a summary in this regard had been forwarded to the prime minister.

This statement, though, only drew a reprimand from CJP Nisar who noted that when a court had ordered for illegal occupants of these flats to be evicted, why did the government send a summary to the prime minister to hand these very flats over to police officials.

“We have summoned IG Police why did he not appear in the court?” CJP Nisar asked and continued that this was the second time that the capital’s top cop had failed to show up when court summoned him.

The CJP said that the court will not allow police officers to stay in flats they do not pay the rent for.

“It is injustice with other employees who deserve government accommodations on merit and have been waiting for their turn for a long time,” the CJP observed and remarked how could government officials occupy a government building illegally?

He reiterated that police officials were given flats for a limited period of time and that the relevant officials should have made alternate arrangements to house these officers.

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The CJP went on to ask how could officials keep possession of flats even after not paying Rs350 million in outstanding dues.

At this, the advocate general requested the bench to look into this mater on humanitarian grounds.

The CJP, though, said that since the police too belong to this country, it was the responsibility of the government to provide them accommodation, if they so deserve.

The court again expressed its displeasure over the absence of IGP and the proceedings were halted for a second time during the hearing.

The proceedings, though, resumed again once the IGP appeared in the court.

On his arrival, CJP Nisar directed the IGP to ensure the implementation of court’s orders in letter and spirit

“The illegal occupants are using ‘kundas’ to steal electricity and gas,” the CJ stated, adding that this was an injustice with those government employees who have been waiting for government accommodations on merit.

Over 210 flats in Sector G-6, near Aabpara, were built by the CDA in 1997 at a cost of Rs250 million to house government employees. In October 2005, they were used to temporarily house victims of the earthquake. Shortly before the Lal Masjid operation in 2007, policemen began to occupy the flats.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2018.

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