ISLAMABAD -  The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Punjab government to submit a detailed report on the alleged occupation of the evacuee trust land in Lahore by different departments and a private entity.

A three-member SC bench headed by Justice Ameer Hani Muslim resumed hearing on an appeal of Sardar Ali, a resident of Takia Ghulam Shah of Lahore.

Hamid Ali Shah, representing the appellant, argued that the Auqaf Department has illegally occupied 58 kanal of his client. He requested the court to pass an order for its vacation.

The court was informed that the Punjab government has illegally constructed a police training centre on the trust’s land, and the National Highway Authority has also occupied a portion of its land while a petrol pump has also been set up on the land. Additional Advocate General Punjab Razzaq A Mirza told the court that land has been taken into possession under the Waqaf Property Ordinance.

Justice Hani remarked that the government has nothing to do with private properties. He asked whether the government would occupy every land in the presence of legal heirs, and it was a violation of section 6 of the Waqaf law.

Under which law permission was given for the construction of a petrol pump and the police training centre, the court observed.

The officials of provincial Waqf board informed the court that a disputed land was occupied in 1980 and the police training centre was established in 1985 as a district collector had ordered to occupy the land.

On a court query, Provincial Secretary Auqaf Nawazash Ali admitted that under the existing law, the allotment was not correct. Justice Hani appreciated him for bringing the facts to the fore. The district collector has no powers to issue such orders, Justice Hani added.

The additional advocate general said that the Punjab chief minister had given the land on a lease for the construction of petrol pump under Section 16 of Waqaf law. Justice Hani remarked it was the case of misuse of the authority.

Auqaf officials informed the court that the provincial government earns Rs11.9 million per annum from the land use and this huge amount is used for maintenance of 417 shrines throughout the province. “Where does the money collected from shrines go, if earning from this land is used for maintenance of shrines?” Justice Hani questioned.

The officials said that some amount earned from the land was being spent on hospitals as well. Upon this, Justice Hani remarked that judges were also from the same society and knew about facts. The judge said everyone knows about the condition of hospitals in the province and machines in mostly hospital remains out of order. The officials should watch whatever is shown on TV channels regarding the condition of hospitals, he said.

The court directed the officials to measure the total disputed land with the assistance of the survey and revenue departments and present a comprehensive chart showing how much land has been occupied by the police training centre, the petrol pump and others at the next hearing on February 15.