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CDA stops lawyer from pursuing case against cinema in shopping mall

CDA stops lawyer from pursuing case  against cinema in shopping mall

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has stopped its lawyer from pursuing a case related to the alleged violation of building codes in the construction of a cinema house at the Safa Gold Mall.

The proposed cinema house would be the second one in the federal capital as another had started operations at the Centaurus Mall a couple of years ago.

In 2012, the CDA allowed the construction of the cinema at the Safa Gold Mall but on April 23, 2015, the civic agency directed the management of the Mall to suspend the project. The management, however, filed a petition with the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which after an initial hearing suspended the CDA order.

Challenging the suspension of its order, the CDA submitted a reply to the IHC, saying the management of Safa Gold Mall in connivance with some CDA officials had made “post-bid changes” for the construction of the cinema which caused a huge loss to the civic agency.

The CDA reply also carried an inquiry report about the ‘connivance’ of the CDA officials with the management of Safa Gold.

The report recommended that the “finance wing may calculate the loss which was caused to the CDA after the allottee of the plot was given the concessions.” It also recommended “fixing responsibility and initiating a disciplinary action against the officials who misused their powers.”

The report added that certain officers of the CDA had approved the establishment of the cinema on the top floor of the building against the by-laws of the civic agency.

“Planned/existing car parking facility (of Mall) is insufficient…permission of cinema would further worsen the situation as the cinema would generate more and more traffic,” it added.

The management of the Mall adopted before the IHC that they were ‘condemned unheard’ as no opportunity of hearing was granted to the company before canceling the approval of the cinema.

The petition claimed that a deputy director of the CDA cancelled the approval whereas under the law the chairman or the CDA Board was competent to make such a decision.

It said: “The impugned letter is silent who had passed the order. As per knowledge of the petitioner, the CDA Board or chairman has not passed any such order.”

It said in 2012 the CDA allowed the construction of the cinema and the petitioner company leased out the area for the Cinepax Limited.

Justice Amir Farooq had fixed the matter for final arguments on June 16. However, on the said date, quite surprisingly, the CDA counsel, Kashif Ali Malik, informed the judge that he had been instructed not to appear in the petition. Subsequently, the matter was adjourned till June 22.

Sources said the lawyer was earlier asked to linger the matter but upon his refusal he was asked to disassociate himself from the case.

It is pertinent to mention that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on a number of occasions expressed its displeasure over CDA’s deliberate ‘losing’ of cases in the courts.

The PAC had directed the CDA to submit a detailed report about its cases pending in different courts. Despite repeated attempts, CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajid could not be contacted for comments.

A senior officer of the authority, however, told Dawn that the civic agency would take up the matter in the court on the next date of hearing on June 22. According to him, a senior lawyer may be asked to represent the CDA case.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2015

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