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Full Version: ‘Land grabbing’: dozens of cases against Malik Riaz await decisions
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ISLAMABAD: Dozens of land-grabbing and other cases have been pending adjudication against Bahria Town Chairman Malik Riaz Hussain for years.
After going through the list of cases awaiting decisions, it seems as if police and other law enforcement agencies are helpless in taking action against Malik Riaz, an influential real estate tycoon and head of a powerful land mafia operating in the country under the name of ‘Bahria Town’.
Prior to 2005, almost all state organs, including police and judiciary, seemed helpless in taking any action against Malik Riaz. According to a senior lawyer, whenever any honest police or judicial officers tried to hold Malik Riaz accountable for his actions, they faced victimisation through varoius means. Several such officers were immediately transferred.
In 2005, when Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry assumed office of chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) and initiated judicial activism by frequently exercising his judicial powers under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, hundreds of people approached the apex court against the excesses and injustices committed by Malik Riaz.
Chaudhry tried to tighten the noose and bring the powerful man to justice. However, he, too, remained unsuccessful.
Instead, Malik Riaz entrapped Chaudhry’s son and launched a character-assassination campaign against the then CJP by holding news conferences and speaking in talk shows against him, accusing him of taking bribes through his son.
Malik Riaz accused Dr Arsalan Iftikhar of receiving Rs 342 million from him to give him the decisions of his choice, from his father in the pending cases against Bahria Town.
Malik Riaz tried to make Justice Chaudhry ‘controversial’. Ultimately, the ‘files’ against Malik Riaz were closed.
Meanwhile, 12 judges of the apex court had held a meeting and took notice against the anti-judiciary campaign run by Malik Riaz by holding news conferences, and issued a contempt notice against him. However, the issue remained inconclusive.
On the orders of Iftikhar Chaudhry, a bold and upright district and sessions judge of Islamabad held an inquiry against Malik Riaz. The judicial officer reviewed in-detail the tactics of Malik Riaz of grabbing lands by using patwaris, other revenue staff, district administration and throwing out the legitimate land owners with the help of police.
He also narrated the ordeal about how state institutions facilitated the ‘influential man’ when he grabbed the lands of common men through his goons.
When Justice Chaudhry started hearing this report, a number of noted and costly lawyers, who had also been heading the lawyers’ movement for restoration of Justice Chaudhry, appeared on behalf of Malik Riaz. Consequently, Justice Chaudhry stopped the proceedings and the cases went to the cold storage.
The Supreme Court’s orders in a suo motu notice taken in 2010 against an illegal drag race, organised by Malik Riaz’s son Ali Riaz in Bahria Town in 2010, in which five people lost their lives, have not yet been implemented.
Nothing has so far been done despite repeated orders of the apex court in 2011 to the government to take appropriate measures to bring the culprits of illegal Bahria Town car race to justice. The court had directed the interior and foreign affairs ministries, to extradite Atif Sheikh, the main accused, from Dubai to Pakistan.
Later, the apex court took notice on the appeal of a widow, who alleged that Malik Riaz and his son Ali Riaz had killed her husband Muhammad Fayyaz, a security guard at a private housing society. However, Malik Riaz paid the blood money to the legal heirs of the deceased and the case was disposed of.
When former CJP Jawwad S Khawaja started hearing of two cases against land grabbing of Malik Riaz and gave decisions against him, he (Malik Riaz) started a campaign against the CJP, terming him biased. He engaged expensive lawyers, who filed a review plea against the decisions. They, instead of raising legal points on the decisions, contended that Justice Khawaja was biased against Malik Riaz, thus making the decisions ‘controversial. The review plea is still pending, whereas the decisions have not been implemented yet by the state machinery.
Another case about illegal occupation of Malik Riaz on thousands of acres forest land of Punjab province was initiated by Justice Khawaja. During the hearing of the case, Justice Khawaja retired and the case remained pending for over two years.
Aitzaz Ahsan, who is counsel for Malik Riaz, did not appear in this case on 15 hearings.
After a two-year pause, when the case was listed and two of its hearings took place, another judge excused from hearing it. Now the CJP will constitute another bench, which will hear the case.
A suo-motu notice, taken by CJP Mian Saqib Nisar in May 2017, about the stage collapse incident at Bahria Enclave is still pending adjudication.
The TV show was arranged illegally on April 28, 2017 without taking permission from the district administration. After the stage collapsed, instead of providing medical aid to the injured people, most of the management staff of Bahria Town, escaped from the site and turned off the lights that made it difficult to carry out rescue activities.
At the end of last month (September), police registered an FIR against Malik Riaz, his son Ali Riaz, and the Bahria Town management in a land-grabbing case more than a week after a local court issued orders in this regard.
Islamabad Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Sikandar Khan had ordered local police on September 21, 2017 to file a case against the accused on the complaint of a widow and other residents of Phulgran, located in the suburbs of the federal capital.
Bhara Kahu Police registered the FIR on September 29 under sections 109, 341, 379, 427 and 447 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), dealing with theft, wrongful restraint, mischief and criminal trespass.
In the past, many people have tried to protect their properties from Malik Riaz’s. However, most of them failed to do so. Some were even killed. The families of the deceased were later forced to reach a compromise with the land mafia. All this has given rise to a common perception that no one can stand up against Malik Riaz.
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