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Court: SC decides to re-hear Gun Club case, as CJP rescues
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court decided on Monday to re-hear “The Gun and Country Club” case, after the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was heading a three-member bench which had reserved its judgment in the case on January 9, separated himself from the case being a member of the Club.
Now the case will be re-heard by a two-member bench comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed. Earlier, the same bench headed by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had heard the case and reserved its ruling.
On Jan 9, the administrators of the exclusive sporting facility “The Gun and Country Club” had conceded before the Supreme Court that the organisation had been run for the last over a decade without a legal backing.
After acknowledging the grave shortcoming, Advocate Raja Mohammad Irshad, representing the club, had come out with a request to the court seeking one-month time to make the organisation a legal entity. But the bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed had preferred to reserve its ruling on the matter instead of acceding to the appeal.
The issue pertained to the lease of additional 28 acres of prime land to the elite club so that it could be used as a safety zone (killing/danger zone) for shooting ranges which would be kept vacant for all times to come.
The court had initiated a suo moto notice in October 2011 on a news report regarding allotment of a huge chunk of land worth billions of rupees to the gun’s club at a cheap rate of Rs10 million per acre. At the last hearing, the court had questioned the legality of the club, which was being run by Faisal Sakhi Butt as its administrator.
This 28 acres was in addition to the existing 44 acres of land on which the sprawling club spreads out. Originally belonged to the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), the gun club was established in November 18, 2002 through a “Gun Club Resolution 2002 which was subsequently notified by now devolved Ministry of Sports, Culture and Tourism.
On June 18, 2011 the then sports ministry had requested the Capital Development Authority (CDA) Board for the execution of the lease deal for the 72 acres (44 acres of existing land and additional 28 acres) of land. The CDA board had acceded to the request then.
In 1977, land measuring 145 acres was allotted to the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) in Zone A of the federal capital, reserved in the Master Plan for sports and recreation purposes. Of these 145 acres, 44 acres, that housed the gun and country club, was specifically reserved for the shooting ranges at the Pakistan Sports Complex.
It may be recalled here that the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who had been heading a three-judge Supreme Court bench, which had been hearing the Gun and Country Club case, is among 495 influential people, including Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, who are members of this elite sporting club.
According to Club’s record, the CJP became a member of this controversial club in mid-2009 and his membership number is I-09-0364. The membership form bearing the CJP’s signatures shows the proposers of his name were Athar Minallah, prominent lawyer who is also a member of the club, and Col Agha Abbas Raza.
The membership fee of Gun and Country Club in 2009 was Rs 150,000 for government officials and Rs 300,000 for civilians while, currently, it is Rs 300,000 for government servants and Rs 600,000 for civilians. Besides, a member is also required to pay Rs 1,250 per month to retain his membership.