Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday directed Packages Industries to deposit Rs 500 million with the Supreme Court to be adjusted against unpaid rent since expiry of lease in 2015. A two-judge bench headed by the chief justice also observed that the land in question instead of leasing out in future would be put to sale through open bidding. The court also issued notices to the lessees of 32 petrol pumps in Lahore who according to the deputy commissioner had been holding the possession of the land despite cancellation of their lease since 2017.
A civil society member, Abdullah Malik had challenged the possession of the Packages Industries on the state land despite the expiry of the lease. He complained that the industry had not been paying a single penny to the government against its possession and also established a shopping mall there in violation of the law.
The counsel of Syed Babar Ali Shah of Packages industries stated that the land was first given to his client in 1955 on lease and an application for the extension of the lease was pending with the authority concerned since 2015, he added.
However, the counsel maintained that the shopping mall had not been constructed on the leased land but the purchased land of the industry.
Chief Justice Nisar took strong notice of the delay in decision on the application for the extension of the lease.
Later deputy commissioner Lahore and member colonies of Board of Revenue (BoR) appeared on the court's direction and stated that the government had not made any policy to revise the leases of the state land rather decided to auction them. The bench observed that the inaction on part of the government officials caused an annual loss of Rs 200 million to the national exchequer.
The counsel of Babar Shah assured the chief justice that his client was ready to pay rent for the land's possession after the expiry of lease whatever the court would determine the amount.
At this, Chief Justice directed the counsel to deposit Rs 500 million with the court within a week as a token amount for the rent to be determined by a team of banks surveyors. He also asked the counsel to submit by Monday a list of top five banks surveyors to be selected for the purpose of ascertain the amount of the rent. The chief justice also directed the BoR to hold demarcation of the whole land to examine whether the industry had encroached upon any state land.