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KBCA asked to post building/development projects documents on website within week
Business Recorder September 11, 2009
KARACHI (September 11 2009): Sindh High Court (SHC) has ordered Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) to post all documents relating to building/development Projects on its website within one week.

According to a press release issued by Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) on Wednesday, the Sindh High Court bench comprising of Chief Justice SHC, Sarmad Jalal Usmani and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah ordered KBCA to comply with the prayer (i) as per petitioner, TIP, conceded on Wednesday by Shahid Jamil, (Advocate of KBCA), and need full to be done within one week. A notice shall also be issued to ABAD for the posting of the information on the builder/developer website and also for action on prayer (ii), to be heard on 29 September 2009.

The Trustees of Transparency International Pakistan after considering the miseries of the public and blatant violation of laws by builders took an unprecedented decision to file a constitutional petition in the Sindh High Court. The Constitutional Petition No D-1559 of 2009 was filed on July 17, 2007.

Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) has been receiving numerous complaints on the unethical business practices of many builders and land developers. The public has suffered losses of their investments/properties. The illegal acts of the builders demanding extra payments, not allowed under rules, on the pretext of inflation, which sometimes amounted to even 100 percent of the booked cost of the units.

The petition requested that the interest of the general public, while dealing in real estate development be safeguarded by the regulatory authority KBCA. The public has lost trust in such development work by the various builders who have turned the development business into a criminal activity. Some of the builders who with the support of political and criminal influences, are not following procedures prescribed for transparent dealing in real estate.

In most of the cases, when buyers are not able to pay the regular instalments, the builders impose heavy penalties, which in some cases are up to 30 percent of the original unit prices. Local as well as foreign builders are active in these fraudulent practices in Pakistan. In many cases, builders make booking for the same units in the name of multiple buyers.

The petition also quoted from the Cowasjee's article published on 31 May 2009 that 'Criminal gangs with links to key political parties are terrorising the residents of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, according to officials and victims. The most powerful is the so-called 'land mafia', who take over commercial plots, government land and even people's homes, the officials said.

The land mafiosi, who work out of legal fronts such as building, contracting and real estate businesses, derive their strength from political parties with constituencies in Karachi and other parts of southern Sindh province such as the MQM, the PPP, the ANP and the PML-Q and PML-Functional.'

All these wrong doings, TI Pakistan said, is being committed against the Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations, 2002 and Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations (Amendment) 2005, which protects the buyer's as well as builder's interest. TIP prayed to the court that unfortunately these regulations have never been truly implemented due to the influences and vested interests of powerful persons.

According to these regulations every builder/developer is required to take NOC from KBCA, deposit one percent cost of Project as performance guarantee with KBCA, sign an agreement with the buyer within 15 days of booking and deposit a copy with KBCA, complete the project within the time given in NOC, which is about 3 years, in case of a delay in construction shall pay buyer liquidated damages at the current bank interest rate for the duration of delay, KBCA shall allow any escalation of cost request by them in case the project is not completed within the 3 years NOC time period, in case of delay in payment of monthly instalments by buyers he shall pay penalty equal to current bank interest rate on the amount of delayed instalments, seller has right to cancel the allotment of the unit if three instalments are not paid, but has to issue notice of cancellation of 30 days with copy to KBCA.

The Builder/Developer shall not rebook the cancelled unit within 30 days of receipt of copy of cancellation letter by the Authority, provided that Developer shall publish the cancellation notice in the weekend addition of two leading newspapers (English & Urdu) in the classified advertisement section in a bold format under the heading of cancellation of flat/unit.

The most important rule is that in case of default of instalment or buyers own choice if the booking of the unit is cancelled and agreement terminated the builder/developer shall refund the total payment made so far within 30 days, after deducting only 4 percent of the instalments paid by buyer. In order to have Transparent Implementation of KBCA Rules, TI Pakistan went to the SHC with request that all the mandatory requirements under KBCA regulations, which are to be complied by builder/developers as well as KBCA like inspection and quality control certificate during construction shall be posted on the website of KBCA as well as the website of builder/developer.

Transparency International Pakistan prayer to the Court was: 

(i). The mandatory information as prescribed in the Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations, 2002 Regulations 5.1 and 5.2, and Floor certificate issued by KBCA under Regulation 3.2.11, to be provided to KBCA by the builders/developers, shall also be posted on the website of the project by the builder, as well as on the website of KBCA by KBCA, for public knowledge and monitoring.

(ii) The register be maintained by each builder showing the number of units/plots booked with name of every investor against such unit/plot and to display such register at a prominent place in their site office for inspection at all times so to eliminate multiple booking.

The Independence of Judiciary and results of judicial reforms announced by the chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry for free and expeditious Justice can be seen in this petition, which was filed on 27th July 2009, and the orders were issued on 8th September 2009, in only 43 days.-PR

Court asks KBCA to put builders’ data online
Dawn September 11, 2009
KARACHI, Sept 10: The Sindh High Court in a constitutional petition filed by the Transparency International Pakistan has directed the Karachi Building Control Authority to post all relevant information on construction projects and builders on its website within a week for public knowledge and monitoring.

The order was passed by a division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmani and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah on the constitutional petition (D-1559-09) filed by the Transparency International Pakistan against the KBCA and the Sindh government. The petitioner, Adil Gilani of the Transparency International Pakistan, said that interests of buyers and builders were protected under the Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations-2002 and the KB&TPR (Amendment) 2005, but they were rarely followed, with the buyer usually losing his money in the process, particularly in case of default on instalments.

Under these regulations, the developer/builder is supposed to sign a prescribed agreement within 15 days of booking and deposit its copy with the KBCA. The builder shall complete the project in time –usually three years – given in the NOC and in case of delay shall pay liquidated damages to the buyer at the current bank interest rate and ask for escalation of price from the KBCA.

In case of any delay by buyers in payment of instalments, the law says, they shall pay a penalty equal to current bank interest rate on the amount of the delayed instalments. The seller can cancel the booking if three instalments are not paid after issuing a 30-day cancellation notice to the buyer and depositing its copy with the KBCA.

The regulations also bind builders not to rebook a cancelled unit within 30 days of receipt of the cancellation letter’s copy by the authority, provided the developer shall publish the cancellation notice in the weekend edition of two leading newspapers of English and Urdu in the classified advertisement section in bold letters under the heading of Cancellation of Flat/Unit.

If the booking is cancelled in case of default on instalments or agreement terminated on buyer’s own choice, the builder/developer within 30 days shall refund the total payment made to them after deducting four per cent of the in stallments paid by the buyers. In his petition, Mr Gilani of the Transparency International Pakistan had prayed to the court that all the mandatory requirements under the KBCA regulations, which are to be complied with by builders/developers and the KBCA like inspections and issuance of quality control certificates during the construction work, should be made available on the websites of the KBCA as well as of the builders/developers for public knowledge and monitoring. Besides, it was demanded that builders should ensure that a register with up-to-date information about number of booked units/plots and names of their investors be placed at a prominent position at all site offices to facilitate inspections so that chances of multiple booking could be eliminated.

Additional Advocate General Sarwar Khan and Shahid Jamil, who represented the KBCA in court, said that all relevant information would be uploaded on the KBCA website on the court order but the Association of Builders And Developers should be summoned in order to get the information posted on the builders’ website.

The court also issued a notice to ABAD and adjourned the hearing till Sept 29.

Call for Sweden-like 'parliamentary' form of ombudsman system
Business Recorder July 17, 2009

KARACHI (July 17 2009): Urging the bar associations to also raise voice in favour of public interest, a group of former judges and lawyers at a seminar, held here at a local hotel Thursday, called for a Sweden-like poor-friendly "parliamentary" form of ombudsman system to maintain rule of law in the corruption-hit country.

The speakers at "Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre" (ALAC), organised by Transparency International-Pakistan (TIP), also blasted the successive governments and bureaucracy for denying the judiciary freedom of work in the best interest of justice.

The speakers included former Justice Salim Akhtar, former Justice Haziqul Khairi, Advocate Sohail Muzaffar, Advocate Amaranth Motumal and Saad Rashid of TIP. The seminar was also told that ALAC, which was launched by TIP in March this year to provide legal assistance to the common man, had received a lukewarm response from the masses, as since its inception the Centre had received only 12 to 13 complaints.

The speakers declared that all assurances of the judiciary to the general public were based on "falsehood" and no concrete work was being undertaken, neither now nor in future. "The President and Governor (the two executives to whom the federal and provincial ombudsmen are respectively responsible) are flanked by a strong bureaucracy, who mislead them about the just decisions of ombudsmen," claimed former Justice Haziqul Khairi, former Ombudsman of Sindh and Chief Justice of Federal Shariat Court (FSC).

Referring to Sweden, where the ombudsmen are appointed by the parliament and not by the President and Governor, the retired judge said decisions of the two executives should be made subject to the scrutiny of Supreme Court. "The supreme and high courts should strengthen and patronise these institutions," he said.

The TIP's trustee was also positive when asked whether the institution of ombudsman should be made independent of the executives and proposed that the ombudsman, who according to Khairi is aptly called as the poor man's court, should be answerable only to the parliament.

Highlighting significance of FSC, he stressed the need to formulate procedures for the appointment of "Aalim" (religious scholar) judges to the Shariat Courts instead of letting it on the sole discretion of executives. He also criticised the government for its "derogatory" treatment towards the judges of FSC, where the Chief Justice, unlike his counterparts in supreme and high courts, was not more than a "silent spectator" to a game of musical chairs in the appointment of judges in his court.

Terming democracy sans accountability as "meaningless", Justice (R) Salim Akhtar, Honorary Director General Supreme Judicial Academy, stressed the importance of rule of law and accountability in the country. He said the corruption had spread to such an extent that international financial institutions, like the World Bank, in their agreements with developing nations were incorporating safety clauses against corruption.

Sohail Muzaffar, Advocate of Supreme Court and a TIP's trustee, underlining the achievements of ALAC said the progress of centre was unfortunately slow in Pakistan, where the NGOs were uncooperative and the people expect legal advice only from the courts."We had invited a number of NGOs (to this seminar) but we can see one or two of them only," he lamented.

Later, Nazia Butt, ALAC's Deputy Project Co-ordinator, toldBusiness Recorder that since March 2009 the Centre had received only 12 to 13 complaints, of which at least seven were from Karachi. Amarnath Motumal, Advocate High Court and Member Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), terming the lawyers movement based on "self-interest" urged the bars to voice against the government's highhandedness towards masses.

"I dare to say that the bars acted in self interest as an achievement for the bench is achievement for the bar... the bars and bench is inseparable," he said adding that "where are those bars of districts, supreme courts, high courts and the NGOs? Why don't they challenge the government's anti-people measures like carbon tax in the courts".

Talking on "Human Rights and Legal Aid" Motumal stressed the need to address the infringement of human rights, which, he said, in turn would affect corruption. The speakers proposed measures, like social boycott of the corrupt people, regeneration of the country's morals through brainstorming, rebuilding of the nation etc to rid the country of corruption.

Earlier, during his introductory speech Executive Director of TIP Saad Rashid described efforts of the international watchdog to fight corruption in Pakistan. Engineer M.A Jabber, Chairman Site Association of Industries, lauding efforts of the retired judges and lawyers presented plaques to them that winded up the seminar.

Bureaucratic set up main hurdle in eradicating corruption
The News July 17, 2009

Judges, lawyers and participants of a seminar said that the bureaucratic set up in the country and an expensive judicial system are the main hurdles in eradicating corruption from the country the seminar on “Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre” was organized by Transparency International (TI) at a local hotel on Thursday. Former tax ombudsman Justice (Retd) Salim Akhtar, former ombudsman Justice (Retd) Haziqual Khairi, senior lawyers Sohail Muzaffar and Amarnath Motumal read out papers while prominent citizens attended the seminar Speakers suggested that protection of victims of corruption was the basic requirement and there was a need for legislation in this regard. Justice (Retd) akhtar stressed the importance of the rule of law and accountability and was of the view that democracy would be meaningless without accountability. He said that corruption had spread to such an extent that international financial institutions in their agreements with developing nations incorporated safety clauses against corruption.

Justice Khairi, who served as federal ombudsman, said that the institution of ombudsman both in the centre and provinces was very friendly for the poor in providing relief and justice to them. He said that poor people could complain to the Ombudsman without any fee and charges. This would strengthen this institution and would be helpful in eradicating corruption. He said that bureaucracy misguided the president and governor, and created the impression that this institution was creating problems for the government.

Sohail Muzaffar, a trustee of the TI, said that the Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre wanted to empower citizens to make and pursue corruption-related complaints, for which legal advice and assistance would be provided to the poor. Motumal Advocate said that the court must take suo motu action in resolving problems of the people, including transport, price hike, housing and encroachments, and draw the attention of the government towards these problems.

During the question and answer session, participants pointed out problematic areas in eradicating corruption from society and complained that people generally avoid lodging complaints as they felt that there will be no protection accorded to them if they lodge a complaint against corrupt authorities.

CJ vows to eradicate corruption from courts
Dawn April 19, 2009

ISLAMABAD, April 18: Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has declared 2009 as the ‘year of justice’ and vowed to eradicate corruption from courts and ensure quick dispensation of justice.Presiding over a meeting of the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee here on Saturday, he said that after restoration of the judiciary to the pre-emergency position, justice should be extended to the masses. The two-day meeting was convened by the chief justice to come up with a strategy for quick disposal of cases and dispensation of justice to the litigants by eliminating corruption from the judiciary.
The chief justice sought cooperation from bar associations to achieve this goal. The meeting was attended by Justice Haziqul Khairi, Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court, Justice Tariq Pervez, Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court, Justice Amanullah Khan, Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court, Justice Sayed Zahid Hussain, Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court, and Dr Faqir Hussain, Secretary of the Law and Justice Commission. The meeting called for releasing accused persons involved in bailable offences on personal bond if they are unable to furnish solvent surety. The meeting will continue it deliberations on Sunday.

TIP demand reinstatement of deposed judges
Business Recorder March 15, 2009

KARACHI (March 15 2009): Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) has called on the Government of Pakistan to re-instate the deposed judges who were unconstitutionally dismissed on November 3 2007 by Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf, and immediately stop intervention in media. Its chairman Adil Gilani reminded the government that in the annual meeting of the Transparency International Asia Pacific Chapters, (20 countries), held in Manila, called on the Government of Pakistan to re-instate the deposed judges. He said access to information is the basic requirement of transparency which induces good governance and the rule of law, which are of fundamental importance for Pakistan to develop as a nation and become part of the developed world. It is not the job of a government alone to bring about good governance, but every individual has to strive for this by playing his active role in rooting out corruption from society. In the view of Transparency International, the termination of these judges critically had weakened the effective functioning of the judicial sector. The judiciary is a key institution, safeguarding the rule of law, accountability of governing institutions and prevention of corruption. "It is not news that Pakistan is drowning in corruption due to absence of rule of law," Gilani said. He reminded all political parties to fulfil the commitment given to the nation in their election manifestos that Judiciary shall be fully independent and that There will be no discretion in any administrative decision taken by government servants.-PR


Empower citizens to make and pursue corruption-related complaints and translate these concerns into structural changes