LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has stayed the handing over of 45267 acres of state land on lease to the army for corporate agriculture farming. The land in question is situated in districts of Bhakkar, Khushab and Sahiwal.
The court passed this order in a public interest petition of Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan and sought replies from the respondents on May 09.
The petitioner’s counsel contended that the Punjab Colonies Department issued a notification for handing over the land to the army under section 10 of the Colonization of Government Lands (Punjab) Act 1912.
Corporate farming: Punjab BoR asked to hand over 45,267 acres of state land to army
He argued that the impugned notification was illegal as the caretaker government of the province was not vested with any power to sanction it. He said the scope of the caretaker government was limited to perform day-to-day functions of the province.
He pointed out that grant of state land for a period of 30 years was a decision of permanent nature, which could not have been taken by the caretaker government.
He said the exercise of powers under section 10 of the Colonization Act did not fall under any of the categories of permissible actions by the caretaker government.
He said the purported handing over of the state land was also in violation of the Doctrine of Public Trust.
The counsel argued that there was no provision in the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 which authorized or empowered the army to undertake any activity beyond its composition for the purposes of welfare unless the federal government expressly granted permission to do so.
He maintained that the army had no jurisdiction to directly or indirectly engage in business ventures of any nature outside its composition no to claim any state land for corporate agriculture farming.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023