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Protect buyers’ rights in disputed highrise: Asma Jahangir

ISLAMABAD: The counsel for affected buyers of residential apartments in the under-construction highrise towers near the Convention Centre concluded her arguments before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday.

In her concluding arguments, Asma Jahangir said the buyers’ rights should be protected because they are an “innocent bona fide third party” and such treatment could not be allowed because the regulator or contractor’s work was not carried out.

Ms Jahangir was arguing on a petition filed by the buyers against the cancellation of a land lease meant for residential apartments and a luxury hotel.

This July, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) cancelled the lease of BNP, the construction company for the project, and had also sealed the construction site.

Ms Jahangir argued that no law exists that could restrict the petitioner’s entry into the apartments. She asked: “How am I being illegally stopped from entering my own property,” Ms Jahangir added that a mechanism was needed, as the buyers cannot stay at a relative’s home or postpone things indefinitely.

“Life is totally disturbed; planning is totally disturbed, I can’t rent out my property and post-retirement planning is at a halt,” she said, adding that many of the petitioners currently outside the country were thinking of coming back and settling here but are awaiting a decision.

IHC Justice Athar Minallah asked if BNP’s application is not accepted, who would protect the rights of the buyers. Ms Jahangir said if the CDA takes over ownership they will have to negotiate, as the petitioners will not accept payment based on the 1935 criteria. She said the CDA will have to protect petitioner’s rights.

The court directed the parties to restrict their arguments to the grounds of cancellation of lease as, prima facie, the CDA has only cancelled the lease for two reasons – being a defaulter or for the illegal use of the premises.

“The court will not go beyond that. It doesn’t have suo motu powers,” Justice Minallah remarked.

On Aug 1, CDA informed the IHC that it had terminated a 99 year land lease with the BNP due to violations of CDA bylaws and the rescheduling of outstanding dues. On July 1, the CDA sealed the under construction multi-storey Grant Hyatt Hotel for various building and layout plan violations.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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