LAHORE  -   In what could ultimately result into the end of Patwar system, the Supreme Court has taken a suo motu on the role and functioning of Patwaris, Qanungos and Tehsildars in the country.

A two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, on Sunday issued notices to all the provincial governments for getting their input over the issue.

At the outset of the proceedings, Punjab Advocate General Ahmad Owais informed the court that the issue was related to Land Revenue Act which was also applied in other provinces. It was important to know the stance of other provinces too, he held.

The court therefore issued notices to all provincial governments, seeking their opinion in the matter. The bench remarked that that next hearing of the case would be held in Islamabad.

The Punjab Advocate General had earlier told the apex court that there was no purpose of the appointment of the Patwaris, at least, in urban areas.

Taking suo motu notice of the issue, the chief justice had sought a complete report from the Punjab government about Patwaris and Patwarkhanas in the province.

He asked that under what law the Pawtaris were still preparing land transfer deeds after establishment of the Punjab Land Revenue Authority (PLRA).

The CJP regretted that they (Pawaris, Tehsildars etc.) were committing fraud with innocent people, warning that “if the government failed to offer a legal justification for working of Pawtaris, I will remove them all.”

The chief justice had earlier also directed the provincial government and senior member of Board of Revenue to present a report regarding all Patwar circles and Patwaris working in one week.

The Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA) had been established to eradicate exploitation through forgery, fraud and manipulation, besides bringing an end to the influence of Patwaris and Tehsildars in the province.

But despite their best efforts the authority has failed to stop the strong and deeply entrenched patwar system from exploiting the citizens. The patwaris and bosses are so powerful that they have practically defeated the PLRA system.

Early this year, the Punjab Chief Minister’s Office had constituted a committee to oversee outsourcing of “fard” (the basic document detailing a land) – the only function transferred to the authority from the Board of Revenue (BOR) to bring an end to the notorious patwari culture.

As per PLRA sources, 210,000 fard documents and 85,000 transfer deeds were being issued at Arazi Centres every month and a total of Rs800 million revenue per month was being generated.

The Land Records Management Information System (LRMIS) was developed in 2005 and the authority was set up in 2017. Over Rs13 billion rupees were spent on it and the Punjab government is still pumping funds into it.

PKLI HIRING

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Sunday sought a detailed report from Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) about hiring of specialist doctors and staff for conducting paediatric liver transplant at the hospital.

Headed by the chief justice, a two-member bench passed the orders at the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry while hearing a case regarding the possibility of the first paediatric liver transplant at the PKLI.

The top judge expressed his dismay at the paucity of facilities to carry out a paediatric liver transplant at the health facility. He remarked that despite spending billions of rupees, the institute was still not complete. He said that he could not collect Rs10 billion while a huge sum of Rs34 billion had been spent on the Institute while it was still incomplete. “If Indian doctors could conduct paediatric liver transplant while could not we in Pakistan do so,” he said.

A member of the committee, constituted by the apex court to run the affairs of the Institute submitted that two operation theatres, connected facilities and 100 beds would be made functional at the PKLI by December this year. Whereas, Prof Dr Jawad Sajid further said, the remaining operation theatres and 485 beds would start functioning in May/June 2019.

When the bench asked about possibility of the first paediatric liver transplant at the institute, the committee member replied that it was very difficult at this stage as the specialist surgeons and supporting staff were not available.

At this, the chief justice expressed dismay and observed that it was a wish of the Supreme Court to have the first-ever paediatric liver transplant surgery of Pakistan conducted before the last week of December, but now it appeared to be impossible.

Lahore Children Hospital’s Prof Dr Huma Arshad Cheema apprised the bench that 32 children were in queue for liver transplant. Being informed about the sorry state of affairs regarding the kids, , the chief justice reprimanded PKLI former president Dr Saeed Akhtar over its poor performance and hinted at referring the matter to NAB.

Advocate Hamid Khan representing Dr Saeed submitted that so far Rs18 billion had been spent and work was in progress, and hoped that the situation would improve in the days to come.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the other member of the bench, flayed quality of construction work conducted at the health facility. He said that it seemed that more amount than required had been spent on the project. To which, the chief justice held Dr Saeed responsible for the outcome and also questioned the appointment of some individuals to the PKLI board by him. He observed that four such hospitals could be established with the amount being spent on the PKLI.

Later, the bench sought a report from the PKLI about hiring of specialist surgeons and supporting staff for the carrying out paediatric liver transplant in the hospital and adjourned the hearing.

The chief justice had earlier expressed his dismay when he was informed that PKLI had no basic facilities to carry out a pediatric liver transplant.

The judges lamented that no effort had been made for the children of the country suffering from liver diseases. They said the children were forced to go to India for a liver transplant after undergoing a distressing process for getting the visa for the neighbouring country.

Prof Cheema said no civilian health facility was capable to do a pediatric liver transplant. However, a hospital in Rawalpindi run by the military has been carrying out such surgeries. The CJP said the court would contact the Surgeon General of Pakistan Army.

 

SHAHZAD AHMAD