The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued a stay order in a high-profile case related to the allocation of a Rs 20 billion plot in Sector F-11. The plot, originally designated for a government school, was controversially allotted to a private entity by the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training without cost.
The decision came on Thursday when Justice Aurangzeb Halts the Capital Development Authority (CDA) from allowing any construction at the site. The court addressed this matter following a petition filed by the Private Teachers Association of Islamabad, represented by counsel Kashif Ali Malik.
Government’s Controversial Allotment of the Plot in Sector F-11
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training approved a project titled ‘Establishment of School at Multiple Locations of Islamabad Capital Territory on Public-Private Partnership.’ This project aimed to have the private sector establish and operate a primary school on the plot located in Street No 20, F-11/2, according to the agreed terms of reference (ToRs).
The Departmental Development Working Party (DDWP) gave its approval to the project’s PC-1 during a meeting held on March 24, 2023. The CDA had offered a piece of land measuring 12,888.88 square yards in Sector F-11/2 to the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) on a 33-year lease, extendable for two subsequent terms of 33 years each, with an annual ground rent of Re1 per square yard per annum.
Read more: Islamabad Jail Project Faces Major Delays
Court Expresses Concerns Over Director General’s Removal
During the court hearing, Justice Aurangzeb expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s failure to appoint a director general for the FDE, instead delegating the charge to a joint secretary of the ministry. The justice raised questions about the removal of Dr. Ikram Ali Malik from the post and inquired under what rule the joint secretary assumed the office of the FDE director general.
Dr. Ikram Ali Malik was reportedly removed from his position three months before the end of his tenure because of his opposition to the allocation of the plot to the private firm.
Advocate Kashif Ali Malik argued before the court that the ministry’s process, aimed at entering into an agreement for the public-private partnership, violated Article 25A of the Constitution. This article mandates the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children aged five to sixteen years, determined by law.
He contended that the pretext of a public-private partnership was merely a facade to bestow state resources, emphasizing that the plot was originally allocated to the FDE for the sole purpose of providing free and compulsory primary education.
The court’s stay order has temporarily halted further developments in this contentious issue, raising questions about the allocation process and the intent behind it. The case has captured significant attention and is likely to undergo further legal scrutiny in the future.