ISLAMABAD, July 26 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday ordered a refund of Rs 1.1 million to the complainant, who was denied return of the conversion fee deposited to Capital Development Authority (CDA) for setting up a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) station.
Complainant Maj (retd) Masood Bajwa had filed a representation with the President of Pakistan assailing the order of the Wafaqi Mohtasib, which had turned down his plea on the grounds of limitation and also on the basis of CDA’s Board’s decision declaring the fee paid for obtaining the No Objection Certificate (NOC) as non-refundable.
The President, in his decision, stated that the complainant’s money, deposited for a specific purpose, could not be forfeited nor confiscated without the backing of the existing laws.
He said the Board was not empowered to act of its own whims especially when its actions deprive a citizen of his own money.
As per details of the case, Major (r) Masood Bajwa, after getting permission to install a CNG station in 2007 by CDA, had deposited a conversion fee amounting to Rs. 1,111,111. After facing excessive delays in obtaining necessary NOCs from different departments, the complainant dropped the idea and requested CDA to refund the conversion fee.
The CDA rejected the request of the complainant on the basis of its Board’s decision, dated 15.08.2013, wherein it decided that “in future every NOC that is issued by CDA would be for a specific time period, fee paid for obtaining NOC should be non-refundable and provision/condition to these effects must be specifically stated in the NOC to be issued”.
The Authority conveyed the decision to the complainant on 23.07.2018 regretting the refund, after which the complainant raised the matter with the learned Wafaqi Mohtasib in 02.07.2020.
The Wafaqi Mohtasib declined the instant representation of the complainant, on 04.09.2020, on the basis that the complaint had been made after three months from the date of CDA’s decision and was, therefore, liable to be set aside for being time barred.
Subsequently, Major (retd) Masood Bajwa filed a representation to the President, on 09.11.2020, contending that the learned Wafaqi Mohtasib had closed his complaint on ground of limitation, not on merit, and CDA was depriving him from his rightful claim.
President Alvi in his written order said no law could deprive the applicant of his own deposited money as the CDA Board’s decision dated 15.08.2013 could not be implemented retrospectively.
He said that the perusal of the decision of the Board clearly showed that the Board decision was to be operative for future cases, i.e., after 2013.
The President, in his decision, noted that as per Article 24 of the Constitution “no person shall be deprived of his property save in accordance with law” and since there was no law at the relevant time, the Board’s decision could not be applied to this case retrospectively.
He wrote that Pakistan’s constitution guarantees all citizens to be treated in accordance with law, justly and fairly, and this aspect of the matter had escaped the attention of the learned Wafaqi Mohtasib.
The President, thus, issued the direction “to return/refund the money deposited by the complainant”.