By Khalid Hussain —
Hearing a review petition challenging the judgement of the supreme court in a suo moto case last year that has resulted in suspension of mutations in the province of Balochistan, a three member bench today ordered the federal capital and all provinces to submit their land record laws on the next hearing.
The judgement in review has arisen from a suo moto notice taken pursuant to complaints that Lahore was an urban area and thus not subject to land revenue, the revenue authorities were functioning therein and entering mutations. The court asked the Board of Revenue Punjab to explain under what authority of law were Patwar Circle, Kanungos and Tehsildars established and how transactions in revenue records were maintained and changed. After considering reports and laws applicable to the Punjab province, the impugned SC judgement also added that directions therein would also apply to Sindh, Balochistan and the federal capital.
“The impugned judgement on a case from Punjab erroneously ordered application of the SC decision in all provinces without realizing that the legal situation was not the same in all federating units”, advocate supreme court Tariq Mahmood told TLTP. He is representing the Petitioner who has purchased property in Quetta city but when he approached the revenue authorities for its transfer, it was declined on the ground the Board of Revenue Balochistan has imposed restrictions on the basis of the judgement under review. The Petition for review has challenged the application of the impugned SC judgement in the province of Balochistan.
The impugned judgement is consequence of a suo moto action taken by the SC in 2018. The Petitioner has requested review of the judgement as the action ordered could only be taken in exercise of jurisdiction by the SC under Article 184 of the constitution that involves a question of public importance to enforce fundamental rights. The court was supposed to justify its action to take cognizance before proceeding further, says advocate supreme court Tariq Mahmood adding, “the judgement under review is not sustainable which is an error on the face of the record”.
Proceedings of the suo moto notice leading to the judgement in review, clearly show the context of laws studied was applicable to Punjab. However, the judgement in review also observed, “the above findings and directions shall also apply to the province of Sindh and Balochistan as well as that of Federal Capital”. The review petition holds such “observations were not warranted particularly when laws in province of Balochistan were not examined”.
The report by the Board of Revenue, Balochistan had submitted that “the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 is not applicable in the province of Balochistan, whereas the record of rights is established in Urban and rural areas under 116 of the Act of 1967”. The Petitioner has pointed out in the review petition that the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1967 required preparation of computerized record but not the Balochistan Land Revenue Act. Unlike the case of Punjab, no law has been enacted in Balochistan to establish Land Records Authority to perform and modernize the system of Land Records, to improve the land records service delivery and to deal with ancillary matters.
Also, neither any information was sought from the concerned Balochistan departments nor assistance was provided during the suo moto notice proceedings. Petitioner has sought review of the judgement as directions have been issued without settling issues covering multi-faceted controversy that has resulted in grave prejudice against him. The judgement of the SC also made the Balochistan Land Revenue Act applicable throughout the province without any distinction of urban and rural areas. Also, Transfer of Property Act would not apply automatically unless extended by notification by the Provincial Government which has not been done.
Justice Umar Atta Bundia led the three member bench joined by Justices Faisal Arab and Yahya Afridi who has recused himself from the bench from the next hearing.
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