FIA registers cases against ETPB management
LAHORE: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Lahore has started a crackdown against Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) officials including its former chairman Asif Akhtar Hashmi of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for selling its property illegally and allegedly facilitating land mafia to occupy its precious commercial and residential properties in the city, causing loss of millions of rupees, Bol News has learnt.
According to FIA sources, following a Supreme Court orders, at least five cases against ETPB officials (former and incumbent) were registered on Friday, including Asif Akhtar Hashmi, Administrator ETPB Faisalabad Asif Raza Sheikh, Deputy Secretary ETPB Munir Ahmad, ETPB Inspector Waheed Khan, and private developers including Wasim Sohail and Ayub Ahmad. Meanwhile, more cases would be registered today.
The SC gave the order after the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) found massive irregularities in the affairs of ETPB in selling and auctioning its properties during the last 20 years, a claim the ETPB officials had rejected.
ETPB said that the audit paras were just the observations on the irregularities, and the officials should not term them as audit paras.
They claimed that those observations were yet to be taken up by the Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Terming it a one-sided version of the audit officials, the ETPB officials vowed to challenge the observations in the court.
On the other hand, FIA Karachi also started a massive crackdown following the order of SC. FIA Karachi asked ETPB officials in Karachi to inform all illegal occupants in writing to vacate their occupied properties within seven days else, action would be taken against them as per law.
The FIA was investigating over 500 audit paras, in which, gross violations of the ETPB Act were observed by the audit.
As per Audit Para no 41 of the forensic audit report of Urban Properties (Part-1), the Deputy Settlement Commissioner Lahore had issued provisional transfer orders of an Evacuee property no. SE-36-R-140 & SE-36-R-142 (bearing Khasra Nos.170 &171) in favour of Agha Ismail Khan on 10.12.1960 which was, later on, declared as Evacuee Trust property by the Honorable Lahore High Court Lahore vide order on November 10, 1992.
The decision was upheld by the august Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1999 and a Gazette Notification of the property as Evacuee Trust was issued on 21 March 2001.
An open plot measuring 2 Kanal 10 Marla out of the said property was lying vacant, which was under seal in possession of ETPB.
According to FIA, in 2011, the then chairman ETPB Asif Akhtar Hashmi, in connivance with the revenue officials, had handed over the valuable Evacuee Trust Property to Rasheeda Begum and Muhammad Ayub by declaring the said trust property as private property through an impugned executive order with ulterior motives and malafide intention.
Not only Hashmi violated the SC orders, but he also deprived the state of valuable property, causing a loss of millions of rupees to the national exchequer.
Prima facie, offences u/s 109, 420, 409-PPC r/w 5(2)47 PCA were made out against Hashmi, while the role of Begum, widow of Abdul Haq of Misri Shah Lahore, Muhammad Ayub of Johar Town Lahore, ETPB officials, revenue officials and others would be determined during the investigation.
Similarly, as per audit para no 3.20 of forensic audit report of urban properties (part-ii), the Board owned a property no.n-v-i-s-21, measuring area 29-Kanal and 2-Marla at Badami Bagh, Lahore, out of which, an area of 27-Kanal and one marla was under lease to M/S Sind Engineering Pvt Ltd since 1952, and the remaining (2-Kanal &157 Sqft) was under the occupation of eight (8) tenants.
According to FIA, M/S Sindh Engineering had vacated the possession, which was taken over by the officials of the ETPB in 2001. But the same was neither auctioned nor leased out till April 2012.
As per the decision of the ETPB board in its 2012 meeting, the property was divided into 5 plots, and later was auctioned for thirty years lease.
The Agreement approved by legal adviser ETPB HQ was signed by the then assistant administrator Lahore Mr Asif Raza Sheikh, in 2013, which lacked the period for development in violation of Clause 188 of the Scheme 1977.
The developer did not develop the plot till June 2021, even after a lapse of nine years, due to which the ETPB could not receive the rent at an enhanced rate. The rent was less recovered with an annual increase at the rate of 8% and the surcharge at the rate of 10% comes to Rs16,580,271.
The FIA stated in the FIR that the field staff of the ETPB reported that plots were under the occupation of persons other than lessee, which means the plots had been sub-let to 14 other persons/illegal occupants by the agreement lessees without the approval of competent authority (ETPB).
“The management neither cancelled the lease to retrieve the plots under Section 25 of the Act nor could force the developers to develop the same.”
Later on, a letter AEZ/P 122(01)1614 dated 19-10-2014 was written to the DS properties for fixation of monthly rent regarding 30 years leased property No. s-v-1-s-27 Mian Muhammad Aslam of Badami Bagh Lahore by then administrator Ms Uzma Shehzadi but the matter is still pending with DS property.
According to FIA, prima facie, offences u/s 109, 420, 409-PPC r/w 5(2) PCA were made out against Asif Akhtar Hashmi and Muhammad Asif Raza Sheikh whereas the role of the then Deputy Secretary property, Administrator, Lessee (developers), tenants and other involved persons (if any) would be determined during the investigation.
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