Court issues notices to CDA for ‘unilaterally’ scrapping agreement

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Grand Hayat Towers lease cancellation

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued notices to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in a petition where a private company BNP Private Ltd, previously an allottee of the 13.45 acre land at Constitution Avenue for the construction of Grand Hayat Towers has challenged its lease cancellation notification issued by the CDA on July 29, 2016.
IHC bench however turned down the petitioner’s plea to issue stay orders in this matter while saying that it is not possible without hearing from the other side. BNP CEO through Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan has requested the court to direct the CDA not to take any adverse action during pendency of this writ petition that court accepted and adjourned the hearing till August 16. The CDA had cancelled the lease which was challenged by the party on August 10.
On July 1, CDA had sealed the area where a five star hotel Grand Hyatt and around 240 apartments were under construction. After BNP challenged sealing of this area, CDA had alleged illegalities and violations in this project.
On August 1, CDA told the IHC that its governing board on July 29 cancelled lease of land to the BNP. An IHC bench hearing in the petition of BNP then dismissed the case with observations that the petition has become infructuous in the changed circumstances.
BNP while challenging lease cancellation notification claimed that it did not violate any law but it was inefficiency of the CDA officials instead, that caused the petitioner huge financial losses.
Giving a detailed account of the events, the petitioner said that CDA on September 28, 2004 advertised in national press auction of land for constructing of a five star Hotel, Service Apartments and other allied facilities.
The earlier bidding process for the plot was scrapped by CDA due to insufficient response from prospective bidders. Only two companies participated, both owned by the same group.
As per the new advertisement the lease was for a period of ninety nine (99) years and 15pc of the bid amount was to be submitted within 45 days of acceptance of bid. The remaining 85pc of the bid amount was to be paid over a period of 15 years.
In an open auction on March 09, 2005 BNP Group was the highest bidder at Rs- 75,000/- per square yard and thus the successful bidder. Less than a month before the land for Serena Hotel was sold on February 12, 2005 at a price of Rs-14,500/- per square yard petitioner told the court. The total lease price of the land was Rs. 4.882 billion.

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