Honorable Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan
RE: An Appeal to Honorable Justices of Pakistan Supreme Court to not allow the federal government to usurp Sindh’s land resources.
On behalf of the Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), we appeal to you not to authorize transfer of Bahria Town Karachi land settlement fund to the Federal government of Pakistan. Instead, we request that you order this fund to be given to provincial government of Sindh and bind the provincial government to spent the fund amount on compensation of large number of poor people who were uprooted from their lands, lost livelihood in the area, and launching of an incremental housing scheme for low-middle income residents for those villages, who continue to live in medieval age living conditions.
In our understanding there is no ambiguity in the Pakistan’s constitution as far as the land ownership is concerned: land is a provincial subject, thus Sindh should not be robbed its rightful lawn ownership. The federal government has no legal standing to receive any fund from this illegal allotment to Bahria Town scheme in Karachi. SANA is of the opinion: the Article 78 of the Constitution, as claimed by the Federal Government has no relevance to this situation as the amount was ordered for violations of the provincial laws and rights.
The Supreme court decided that the grant of land by the Sindh Board of Revenue to the Malir Development Authority (MDA), and the MDA’s subsequent exchange of land with Bahria Town for the Malir District Housing Project (Project), were all illegal and were by a collusion among these parties. MDA was prohibited from transferring the land, as it violated the provisions of the Government Lands Act, 1912.
The Court ruled that the developer instead of launching an “incremental housing scheme” to facilitate low-middle income residents launched a massive commercial venture. The Court further said that as much of the work had already been done by the Bahria Town and a third-party interest has been created, the land could be granted to the Bahria Town under a set of revised terms.
In a subsequent offer by the Developer accepted by the Court, the Developer agreed to pay a total of Rs. 460 billions. The Developer paid Rs. 25 billion immediately and the remaining balance is to be paid over a period of seven (7) years in instalments.
In similar cases pertaining to the lands of Native Americans, where such lands were used for government and private projects without proper agreements, the US Courts used similar rationale to award compensation to local Native American communities. In another case, The Indian courts have used the “Right To Fair Compensation And Transparency In Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation And Resettlement Act, 2013” for compensation to the individuals whose lands were acquired and for the social development of local communities.
It is apparent that the justices of the Supreme Court in the two decisions to this matter described above were substantially concerned with the unfair compensation paid for the lands pertaining to developer’s super highway project spreading over 16,896 acres. We believe that court’s order of accepting settlement fund, should not be treated as blanket letter of further purchase, transfer and occupation of land of historic villages in and around Bahria Town Karachi.
We believe despite clear court order (May 2019), Bahria Town continues to expand its construction on over 41,000 acres of land as reported by the English newspaper Dawn.
Bahria Town Karachi continues to violate the court order. We request the Supreme Court of Pakistan to appoint provincial officials to monitor the expansion of the Bahria Town and make sure that Bahria Town follows court orders.
SANA believes people of Sindh have been robbed by the people in power and their collaborators like Bahria Town. Without enforcing the writ of the State, land grabbing mafias will continue to inflict pain, deprivation and loss of homes to native people.