Railways seeks keeping Royal Palm contract intact

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistan Railways counsel, while giving arguments in a case involving irregularities in leasing out of railways land, informed the apex court on Tuesday that there could have been lapses in the bidding process but sought continuation of a contract with the companies that developed the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club Lahore.A two-member bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Ghulam Rabbani heard the arguments. Miangul Hassan Aurangzebm, counsel for the Pakistan Railways, said that it was up to the court to decide about the fate of the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club Lahore.At this, the CJP remarked: “You are trying to put burden on the shoulder of the court,” “We are capable enough and can discharge our responsibility.”

The counsel said that the Pakistan Railway was a federal government entity and therefore it came under the domain of the Council of Common Interests.Railways audit director general informed the court that there had been numerous defaults in the contract. The Phase-I of the Royal Palm Club had been completed and the railways had received Rs 400 million, he said, adding that the companies had defaulted in the Phase-II, which was not yet complete.Mian Allah Nawaz, counsel for the petitioner, Ishaq Khakwani, stated that initially 103 acres of land had been allotted to the Husnain Construction Company for a 33-year lease. But after the tender, the railways board increased the area from 103 acres to 141 acres and the leased tenure was enhanced from 33 years to 49 years, he claimed.

The petitioner said the transaction had been made during the regime of former president Pervez Musharraf’s in a non-transparent manner. If railways officials had wanted to increase the lease and land they should have done that through publication of new advertisement. But every thing was done secretly, he said.A joint petition had been filed by Ishaq Khan Khakwani, former MNA and Dr Mubashir Hassan, challenging a lease agreement concerning 1128 kanals of prime land of the Pakistan Railways situated in the heart of Lahore, which had been executed between the government of Pakistan and a Malaysian consortium associated by two Pakistani’s Lahore based companies; the Husnain Construction Company (Pvt) Ltd and Unicon Consulting Service (Pvt) Ltd, on July 26, 2001 – Dailytimes