Court stays transfer of SDA properties

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday stopped the provincial government from handing over the Sarhad Development Authority properties to the recently-formed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Management and Development Company for the time being by issuing a stay order.

Justice Nisar Hussain and Justice Mohammad Younas Taheem fixed Dec 23 for the next hearing into a petition of the SDA Employees Federation and 318 SDA employees against the dissolution of the authority by the provincial government and the subsequent creation of the EZMDC.

It also directed additional advocate general Mujahid Khan to file comments about the petition on behalf of the respondents, including the provincial government through chief secretary and industries secretary.

The SDA employees claim the company has been formed on political considerations.

Lawyer for the petitioners Mian Muhibullah Kakakhel said while the petition had been pending with the court, the provincial government and industries secretary in an illegal manner continued disposing of and handing over the SDA properties valuing billions of rupees to the controversial company.

He said the respondents had handed over 423 acres of valuable commercial property situated in Hattar Industrial Estate to the company, which had been making demands on a daily basis for taking over the control of other industrial estates.

The lawyer read out the two recent letters issued by the company’s chief executive officer, Mohsin M Syed, to the SDA chairman asking him to make arrangements for the transfer of all operational projects for further management by the EZMDC.

He added that different industrial estates had been mentioned in the letters for transferring to the company on property basis.

“It appears as if these people are in a rush and have arranged a sale of government assets despite no backing of law,” Mr Kakakhel stated adding that SDA was creation of a law, whereas the assembly had so far not passed any law for taking over its assets by the Court stays transfer of SDA properties Company. The lawyer said in an illegal manner, the industries secretary issued a notification on Oct 30 to re-constitute the SDA Board and that a businessman from Lahore, Mohsin M Syed, in his capacity as the CEO of the company, was made the director planning, whereas the secretary himself became chairman of the board.

He said the said board was constituted with the ulterior motive of seizing the SDA properties and assets valuing billions of rupees.

The lawyer said when the SDA board of directors earlier constituted by the establishment department was still there, the industries secretary had no powers to notify the formation of another board.

He said the government had many proposals including those about restructuring of the SDA and the merger of the SDA with the Small Industries Development Board (SIDB) and even a bill was tabled in the provincial assembly for it.

However, the lawyer added, some ‘vested interests’ decided to take away the assets and running capital of SDA by creating the impugned company and therefore, the said bill was withdrawn.

He said a summary was moved to the chief minister on March 13, 2015, that was hurriedly approved on Mar 17, 2015, for the creation of the impugned company.

“Interestingly, before the approval of the said summary, action for the incorporation of the company had already been taken on Mar 12. In this regard, a letter was sent to the registrar of the Joint Stock Companies,” he said.

The lawyer requested the court to play its role in saving the SDA assets from the loot of some individuals.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2015

 

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