City News

Witness denies any knowledge of Clifton’s ‘illegal high-rise’ case

A prosecution witness brought by the National Accountability Bureau to an accountability court on Wednesday denied having any knowledge about a case pertaining to the alleged illegal allotment of a piece of commercial land in Karachi’s upmarket Clifton neighbourhood for constructing a multi-storey building.

Accountability Court-III, at a previous hearing, had indicted former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal, then district coordination officer Fazlur Rehman, former executive district officer Iftikhar Qaimkhani, then district officer Mumtaz Haider, ex-additional district officer Syed Nishat Ali, then Clifton sub-registrar II Nazir Zardari and five builders, Muhammad Dawood, Muhammad Yaqoob, Muhammad Irfan and Muhammad Rafiq.

Meanwhile, the judge had bifurcated the case against one of the real estate developers, who is allegedly absconding abroad, and issued a perpetual warrant for his arrest.

According to the anti-graft watchdog, in 1982 the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation had created 198 stalls and shops on two amenity plots adjacent to the Kothari Parade for dislocated hawkers, while four commercial plots, each measuring 255.55 square yards, were also created in the locality.

NAB claimed that the real estate developers later purchased four commercial plots and 198 stalls of the hawkers. However, the two amenity plots were never transferred in the builders’ names.

The watchdog claimed that the builders in connivance with then city mayor Kamal and other officials unlawfully got 102 stalls transferred in favour of a real estate development company’s name through a conveyance deed without obtaining the permission of the Karachi Development Authority.

The NAB reference claimed that the price of these stalls was shown in the registration deed to be only Rs260 million, but its market value was assessed at Rs2.155 billion and the forced sale value was adjudged at Rs1.724 billion.

The watchdog claimed that the allegedly absconding builder was the subsequent beneficiary of the amalgamated plot that was illegally transferred in the name of his company in connivance with the main beneficiary and the then Clifton sub-registrar II.

The court, after recording the proceedings of the hearing, adjourned the matter till January 23, issuing directions to the NAB IO to produce other witnesses on the day.

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