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SC seeks report on misuse of land, funds donated for people’s welfare

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a report of the District Coordination Officer, Muzaffargarh, who was assigned to ascertain the status of a chunk of land measuring 10,000 acres donated by its owner for the welfare of people but currently being ill-managed with funds being misappropriated.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan had taken up a 1993 complaint of Muzaffar Hussain Khan Magsi alleging that neither the land nor its accounts were being properly managed and maintained as a result of which the valuable property was being wasted and even its funds to the tune of Rs500 million were embezzled.

The court ordered the Punjab government to submit a comprehensive reply in a month encompassing measures for retrieving the trust land from illegal occupation, recovery of rent from different users as well as demarcation of the land.

The court also directed the anti-corruption court, Muzaffargarh, to decide a case with which it was seized for six months.
Complainant alleges the land is not being managed properly and as a result the valuable property is being wasted

The late Sardar Kaura Khan, the chief of the Jatoi tribe of Baloch origin, owned a landed property in 32 Mauzas of four tehsils Jatoi, Alipur, Jampur and Rajanpur in Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur districts.

Before his death, Sardar Khan who was issueless made a will in October 1894, according to which one-third of his land was to be donated to the District Council Muzaffargarh for people’s welfare.

When the case was taken up in 2013, it was revealed that no rules existed and no regulator was available to manage the land. Subsequently, a superintendent of land was appointed to supervise the trust land. But allegations subsequently surfaced that a hefty amount of Rs500m had been misappropriated from the funds.

During the proceedings, Additional Advocate General for Punjab Razzaq A. Mirza informed the court about the March 4, 2016, notification under which the Sardar Kaura Khan (Management, Supervision and Protection of Land) Rules, 2016, were framed.

The rules asked for the constitution of a 12-member management committee headed by the commissioner of Dera Ghazi Khan to ensure better management and protection of the land and maximum income from it, supervise auction of lots, recovery of dues and maintenance of record of income from the land, arrange re-assessment of lease rates before auction of lots, ensure that income from the land is used in education and health sectors, prevent illegal occupation and take effective measures to retrieve the land from illegal occupation.

The court appointed a commission under District Coordination Officer Shahzad Ahmed to verify the status of nature and character of soil and determine reasons for the low income being generated from the land.

The report pointed out that about 4,142 kanals had been encroached upon by different government departments by raising infrastructure like commercial buildings on the trust land.

It was revealed during the inspection that certain chunks of the land were also being utilised by criminals from whom it was not possible to retrieve the land.

But the court wondered whether the writ of the state was so weak that the administration could not take back the occupied land.

The case was adjourned to Jan 5 next year.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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