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RUDA officials fined Rs0.5m for changing counsel on every hearing in LHC

LAHORE: Justice Shahid Karim of Lahore High Court LHC imposed a fine of Rs500,000 to officials of the Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) changing the counsel on every other hearing and filing unwarranted applications seeking vacation of stay against Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project.

Judge was hearing an application moved on behalf of the government and management of RUDA seeking to vacate the stay granted on a number of petitions against this project.  

During the hearing of this application on Tuesday Shazib Masud appeared to plead an application on behalf of m/s Ruda against the stay, but the judge did allow him to proceed.

The judge expressed serious displeasure over the practice on behalf of m/s RUDA of frequently changing its counsel and remarked that this practice showed mala fide on part of the government.

Then judge m/s RUDA chief executive officer Imran Amin on short notice. As Mr Amin appeared noted that the Ruda so far had changed four counsel without seeking a mandatory no-objection certificate from the previous counsel. 

The judge dismissed the applications filed by the government and m/s RUDA as withdrawn and imposed a fine of Rs500,000 on the authority.

Judge also reprimanded Imran Amin for filing the application without his signature.

The CEO sought an apology and said the project was in the public interest. He said the government had been unable to build a road due to the stay against the project.

The judge observed that the affairs of m/s RUDA showed that the multi-billion project was in the hands of incapable and incompetent people.

Judge also extended the stay order till September 14.

The main petitions against the project were filed by Advocates Sheraz Zaka, Ahmad Rafay Alam and others on behalf of the farmers. The council challenged the mode and manner of the land acquisition proceedings undertaken by Ruda for the project. 

He submitted that the land acquisition collector, despite a protest by the landowners, passed 18 awards on a single day amounting to multiple billion rupees. Counsel had also challenged the legality of forceful acquisitions of land for commercial purposes under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

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