LAHORE: A four-member National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team on Tuesday probed ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif regarding the Pakpattan land allotment case. The team handed over a questionnaire to Nawaz in Kot Lakhpat prison and quizzed the former premier.
“The documents are 34-years-old. I do not remember anything,” replied Nawaz.
The probe team asked him if he gave an advertisement in the newspaper regarding the allotment. “On what grounds was the land allotted and which officers issued the orders for the allotment,” asked the NAB team.
The former prime minister reiterated that he did not remember as the case was decades old.
“I had fulfilled all the legal requirements but I do not remember the details. I had worked under the parameters of the law and the Constitution and never misused my authority. I have always served the country,” said Nawaz.
Earlier, the case was heard in the Supreme Court by a three-member bench. Nawaz appeared before the court and pleaded to reject the JIT report on the case.
The JIT, headed by Hussain Asghar, had recommended criminal proceedings against then Punjab chief minister and others and held Nawaz responsible for illegal allotment.
The report said he had allotted the lands of Hujra Shah Muqim and Darbar Hafiz Jamal too during the same tenure. It added Sajjadah Nasheen Qutubuddin had sent an application to the chief minister in which he had requested for the withdrawal of 1969 notification.
The JIT submitted its report in SC on January 15 after which it sought an opinion from the former premier and Punjab government on the issue.
After Partition, Dewan Ghulam Qutab and his family used to be the ‘owners’ of the shrine’s land as per the revenue record from 1947 to 1958.
The family sold pieces of the land to different people until Jan 1, 1970, when the Punjab government notified the Auqaf Department as the rightful owner of the land and Dewans the custodian of the shrine. Later Dewans moved the Lahore High Court but the case was decided against them.
In 1986, the government withdrew its 1970 notification and Dewans reciprocated by withdrawing their appeal before the Lahore High Court against the decision.
With this, the Dewans resumed their land selling business and the revenue department issued ownership rights (fard) to all buyers.
In the meantime, a 1981 case regarding 17 marlas land filed in a civil court reached the Supreme Court by 2015.
Nawaz denies illegal transfer of Pakpattan shrine land in 1985
The apex court chief justice took suo moto of the land deals of the shrine and summoned officials of the revenue and Auqaf departments and the Dewans.
After some hearings, the Supreme Court declared notification of Aug 28, 1986, illegal and nullified all land deals done since then. The decision reportedly affected 100,000 residents of different localities.
The Dewans filed a review petition last year for defence of their right to sell the land with the Supreme Court against its 2015 decision which remained pending since then.
Former chief justice Saqib Nisar, during his visit to the Baba Farid shrine in 2018, had promised justice in the case when dozens of the affected people raised slogans to get his attention towards their plight.