ISLAMABAD   -  The Supreme Court on Thursday constituted a three-member JIT to probe a three decades old dispute wherein then Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif had allegedly ordered illegal transfer of a vast tract of Auqaf land to a claimant.

According to the allegation Sharif in 1986 had ordered withdrawal of a 1969 notification and illegally returned 14,394 Kanals of land attached to Hazrat Faridud Din shrine in Pakpattan to Dewan Ghulam Qutab, in violation of a court order.

The apex court yesterday ruled that the Joint Investigation Team shall be headed by National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) Chief Khaliq Dad Lak and include one member each from Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB).

The JIT head shall submit Terms of References (ToRs) of the investigation within one week while he shall also decide the venue of investigation, ordered the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

Earlier, the top court taking lenient view had left the matter of probe to the deposed premier asking him to opt for alternate forum, after he requested the bench not to constitute JIT saying that his previous experience with a JIT was not pleasant.

But during yesterday’s hearing, Sharif’s counsel asked the bench to get the matter probed by any forum it deemed appropriate.

The Chief Justice observed that Sharif was taking risk as there was contradiction in his statement and documents on record. The bench adjourned the hearing till December 27.

Auqaf Department through a notification dated January 17, 1961 took over the administration, control, management and maintenance of the shrine of Hazrat Baba Faridud Din Gunj Shakkar in Pakpattan along with 6,396 acres of attached Waqf property.

Subsequently, with the approval of the then Punjab Governor, Auqaf Department issued a notification dated December 17, 1969 for taking over additional 72 squares [1800 acres] of land.

The said notification was challenged by Dewan Ghulam Qutubud Din and four others in the court of District Judge Sahiwal which was decided in favour of the department on May 18, 1977.

On appeal, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on April 19, 1981 upheld the decision of the district court against which Dewan filed an appeal before the Supreme Court which was pending with a stay order issued in his favour.

On August 12, 1986, Dewan addressed an application to the Prime Minister of Pakistan through Governor Punjab, requesting the return of at least 72 squares of land.

The Punjab government in its report had said that the perusal of the record shows that although pursuant to report called for in this regard by the then Chief Minister Nawaz Sharif, this Department had submitted summary recommending that application of Dewan may be filed as it did not merit consideration because of two judicial verdicts in favour of its takeover and on account of the case of Auqaf Department before Supreme Court being strong nevertheless the notification was withdrawn through another notification, apparently on the direction of the then chief minister on the said summary as conveyed by the then Secretary to the Chief Minister on 16-8-1986.

It has also been observed that the noting portion of the file indicates that the aforesaid anomaly was noticed by an official of the Department who was processing the case at the relevant time, and it was suggested that this matter should be referred back to the competent authority for clarification, but the then Chief Administrator Auqaf overruled his suggestion and directed issuance of notification for withdrawal of 1969 notification of taking over of the waqf land.

The Punjab government further stated that from a perusal of the record, it appears that there was no legal or factual basis for the withdrawal of 1969 notification except for the reasons contained in the application. It said that the notification of 1986 merits recall.

 

SC forms JIT to probe Nawaz role in shrine land transfer

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN