President orders refund of Rs1.1 million to CNG filling station aggrieved

Web DeskWeb Editor

26th Jul, 2021. 07:05 pm
President Alvi

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday ordered a refund of Rs1.1 million to the complainant, who was denied return of the conversion fee deposited to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for setting up a compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station.

Complainant Major Masood Bajwa (Retd) had filed a representation with the president, assailing the order of the Wafaqi Mohtasib, which had turned down his plea on the grounds of limitation and also on the basis of the CDA Board’s decision, declaring the fee paid for obtaining the No Objection Certificate (NOC) as non-refundable.

The president, in his decision, said the complainant’s money, deposited for a specific purpose, could not be forfeited nor confiscated without the backing of the existing laws.

The CDA Board was not empowered to act on its own whims, especially when its actions deprive a citizen of his money.

As per the details of the case, Major Masood Bajwa (Retd), after getting permission to install a CNG filling station in 2007 by the CDA, had deposited a conversion fee amounting to Rs1.1 million. After facing excessive delays in obtaining the necessary NOCs from various departments, the complainant dropped the idea and requested the CDA to refund the conversion fee.

The CDA rejected the request of the complainant on the basis of its board’s decision, dated August 15, 2013; wherein, it decided that “in future every NOC that is issued by [the] CDA would be for a specific time period, fee paid for obtaining NOC should be non-refundable and [the] provision/condition to these effects must be specifically stated in the NOC to be issued.”

The authority conveyed the decision to the complainant on July 23, 2018, regretting the refund, after which the complainant raised the matter with the learned Wafaqi Mohtasib on July 2, 2020.

The Wafaqi Mohtasib declined the instant representation of the complainant on September 4, 2020, on the basis that the complaint had been made after three months from the date of the CDA’s decision and was; therefore, liable to be set aside for being time barred.

Subsequently, Major Masood Bajwa (Retd) filed a representation to the president on November 9, 2020, contending that the learned Wafaqi Mohtasib had closed his complaint on the ground of limitation, not on merit, and the CDA was depriving him from his rightful claim.

President Alvi in his written order said no law could deprive the applicant of his deposited money, as the CDA Board’s decision dated August 15, 2013 could not be implemented retrospectively.

The perusal of the decision of the board clearly showed that its decision was to be operative for future cases, i.e., after 2013.

The president noted that as per Article 24 of the Constitution, “No person shall be deprived of his property save in accordance with [the] law” and since there was no law at the relevant time, the board’s decision could not be applied to this case retrospectively.

He also wrote that Pakistan’s Constitution guarantees all citizens to be treated in accordance with the law, justly and fairly, and this aspect of the matter had escaped the attention of the learned Wafaqi Mohtasib.

President Alvi; thus, issued the directive “to return/refund the money deposited by the complainant”.

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