LAHORE - The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday took Royal Palm Golf and Country Club (RPGCC) into judicial custody, dissolved its administration and banned the construction of housing societies on Pakistan Railways’ land.

Chief Justice (CJ) Saqib Nisar who was hearing at the Lahore Registry a suo motu case relating to the lease of railways’ land at throwaway rates, also ordered that its records be seized. The apex court also dissolved the administration of Royal Palm and appointed Ferguson Chartered Company, an audit firm, to seize all the records and conduct a forensic audit.

The chief justice also declared null and void all the previous orders made by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in connection with the golf and country club.  He further ordered that no records pertaining to the land be taken out of the club’s premises.

The bench ordered Club’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ramzan Sheikh and the employees to relinquish its charge to the company for carrying out audit. He remarked that till the completion of its audit, the club shall not rest with the CEO nor the Pakistan Railways.

The bench further ordered that the dissolved administration would not be allowed enter the club premises while all the scheduled activities would be allowed to take place as per plan.

The court also banned the banned the leasing of Railways’ agricultural land for more than three years and also declared ban on the construction of housing societies on the government department’s land.

The bench remarked that the Royal Palm’s contract is flawed as it led to the looting of billions of rupees and it was done in connivance with the corrupt railways officials.

The court while declaring all the LHC orders pertaining to Royal Palm null and void, summoned the record of all the cases pertaining to Royal Palm Club lying pending with the LHC.

The court remarked that the railways’ land would not be allowed to be grabbed by any other entity.

The bench remarked that if the additional property is to be transferred to the provinces, they too will sell it. If the provinces have any reservations, they could take the legal route, the CJ said.

During the hearing of the case, the Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid had requested the court to retrieve the Railways’ most attractive land. The case was adjourned till December 28 (today).

During the last hearing, the Railways minister had informed the court that Royal Palm Club’s owners had got a stay order from the High Court after the previous railways administration had tried to take back its land from them.

Moreover, he had also requested the court to give permission to continue with short-term leasing of the railways land for cultivation purposes so as to meet expenses. In the yesterday’s hearing the court decided the question of short-term leasing of its agricultural land.