Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Lahore High Court Stops Punjab Govt from Handing Over 45,000 Acre Land to Pakistan Army

The Lahore High Court has refrained the caretaker Punjab government from handing over around 45,267 acres in three districts of the province — Bhakkar, Khushab, and Sahiwal — to the Pakistan Army for “Corporate Agriculture Farming”.

A notification issued by the GHQ Land Directorate on March 10 read that 45,267 acres of farm land had been handed over to the Pakistan Army in different districts of Punjab.

The GHQ Land Directorate wrote to the Punjab chief secretary, Board of Revenue and agriculture, forest, livestock and irrigation departments secretaries for handing over of 42,724 acres in Kaloor Kot and Mankera tehsils in Bhakkar, 1,818 acres in Quaidabad and Khushab tehsils in Khushab, and 725 acres in Chichawatni tehsil of Sahiwal.

The letter referred to a notification of the Punjab government dated February 20, 2023, and a joint venture agreement signed on March 8.

Following this development, the caretaker set-up in Punjab immediately signed a pact with the army to hand over the land it had mentioned in its letter to it.

On Thursday, LHC judge Abid Hussain Chattha issued a two-page verdict, stopping the province’s caretaker government from extending any “lease of state land” for this purpose.
The judgment was issued over a plea filed by Ahmad Rafay Alam on behalf of the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan on March 28.

The LHC issued notices to the respondents for May 9, seeking their response on the matter.
The court observed that the points raised by the petitioner needed consideration.

The judge also sent notices to the attorney general for Pakistan and Punjab advocate general.
The verdict read that the petitioners had argued that under Section 230 of the Election Act, 2017, the mandate and scope of the caretaker government was limited to perform day-to-day functions and it was specifically barred to make policy decisions of a permanent nature.

“The impugned notification which as per clause 9 thereof allows grant of state land for a period of thirty years, is a decision of a permanent nature which could not have been taken by the caretaker government,” it added.

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