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Long legal battle ends

Ashiyan City gets apex court’s nod to carry on housing project

Published : 23 Nov 2023 12:56 AM

The apex court has declared the much discussed housing project of Ashiyan City Development Limited in Dakshinkhan area in the city as legal, concluding an 11-year long legal battle. 

A six-member full bench of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Obaidul Hassan pronounced the verdict on Wednesday.

The five other judges of the SC bench are Justice Burhanuddin, Justice M Enayetur Rahim, Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam, Justice Md Abu Zafor Siddique and Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim.

The apex court delivered the verdict, disposing of two appeals filed by the government and eight rights organisations challenging the High Court verdict with observations in this regard. 

The Appellate Division did not disclose its observations on Wednesday. The observations can be known after the full text of the judgement is released.

In 2012, some rights organisations filed a writ petition with the High Court, seeking a ban on all activities of Ashiyan City. 

Following the apex court’s verdict, lawyers said that there is no bar to continue the project now on 33 acres near the Dhaka airport.  

    Rights organisations’ lawyer Minhazul Haque Chowdhury told the media that Ashiyan City now can run its housing project on the 33 acres of land following the Appellate Division’s verdict.  Next steps will be taken after receiving the full text of the verdict, he added.

Following a review petition filed by Ashiyan City, the High Court on August 16 in 2016 scrapped its earlier (January 16, 2014) verdict that had declared the Ashiyan City’s housing project illegal.

Then the government and eight rights organisations, including Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BEA), Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), filed two separate appeals with the Appellate Division challenging the HC verdict.

Senior lawyers Fida M Kamal, Prabir Neogi, Syeda Rizwana Hasan and Minhazul Haque Chowdhury appeared for the rights organisations in the apex court, while Additional Attorney General SK Md Morshed argued for the government. However, senior lawyers Md Qumrul Haque Siddique and Ahsanul Karim accompanied by Raghib Rauf Chowdhury Redwan Ahmed Runjib placed arguments for Ashiyan City Development Ltd before the Appellate Division during hearing of the appeals.

Earlier on November 2, the Appellate Division wanted to know the government's approval process for private housing projects in Khilkhet, Dakshinkhan, Purbachal, Bashundhara and their surrounding areas of the capital.

During the hearing on November 7, Chief Justice Obaidul Hasan, who led the Appellate Division bench, praised the work of the BELA, but also questioned the petition. 

“BELA is a respected organisation and many learned senior lawyers and respectable persons of the society are involved with the society. But the BELA filed the instant Public Interest Litigation against the Ashiyan City’s housing project only, though other land development projects have other loopholes. This sends the wrong message to the members of the society,” said the chief justice. 

In response, BELA’s lawyer Probir Neyogi said, “We filed this case according to the capacity of our organisation. We can’t file a case against everyone as we don’t have financial and other support.”

The chief justice then said, “This has become a pick-and-choose matter. You filed a case against only Ashiyan City and the others got away.”

According to the apex court’s order on November 7, Additional Attorney General Sheikh Gholam Morshed submitted the documents relating to the approval process for private housing projects in the mentioned areas.

Seven of out 16 housing projects in Dakshinkhan and surrounding areas of the capital did not have final approval from the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), according to a document submitted to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

    The projects are-- Purbachal Housing Project; Judicial Officers Housing Society; Civil Aviation Residential Zone; Jamuna Builders; Nasa Group; Pink City; and Haji Camp. 

Process for approval of three housing projects are underway. They are-- BCS Admin Housing Society; Police Officers Housing Society and Bonrupa Residential Project.

The document said land has been acquired for RAJUK Uttara Model Town Project but it did not clarify whether the project has been approved or not.

Five projects-- East West Properties Limited; Jolshiri Housing Project; Neptune Properties Limited; Swadesh Residential Project and Lake City Concord - have been given final approval by RAJUK, according to the list.

Staff Correspondent