Demolish BGMEA Bhaban in 90 days: HC

The High Court (HC) in its full judgment on the construction of BGMEA Bhaban Tuesday ordered the government and other authorities concerned to demolish the high-rise building within 90 days.Accordant to the judgment, the BGMEA Building stands as a ‘cancerous growth’ with the capability to dilate malevolency not only to Hatirjheel area but also to the city in its entirety, the judgment said.
“Unless this malignant growth is evaporated forthwith, it will swamp the whole city,” the two-member bench opined.
On February 22 last, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also said the BGMEA Building stands as a ‘carbuncle’ in the Hatirjheel Lake.
Deputy Attorney General Amit Talukder told reporters that the Justices signed the full judgment Tuesday.
Earlier on April 3, 2011, the HC bench comprising Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain gave its short judgment declaring the building illegal and ordering its demolition.
However, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court stayed the HC judgment on April 5, 2011 following a petition of the then president of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA), Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin.
The stay order was extended on May 12, 2011, the court sources said.
The HC judgment was passed after hearing a suo motu rule issued by another HC bench on October 3, 2010.
The HC bench comprising Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Farah Mahbub issued the rule on its own motion when a Supreme Court lawyer DHM Muniruddin placed a newspaper report on BGMEA building’s illegality before the court.
During hearing on the rule, advocates Akhtar Imam, Fida M Kamal, Anisul Huq, Manzil Murshed, Syeda Rizwana Hasan and M Iqbal Kabir were made amicus curiae (friends of court) to assist the court while Rokanuddin Mahmud appeared for BGMEA.
“Since the judgment was delivered in a suo motu rule and as such there was no petitioner, the Office of the Attorney General now should take steps to immediately dispose of the matter in the Appellate Division, where it is now pending,” Mr Muniruddin and Mrs Rizwana Hasan, told the FE.
Mrs Rizwana Hasan, who is also Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (Bela), expressed the hope that the government would take immediate steps against the unlawful construction.
Despite repeated phone-calls, the BGMEA president could not be reached for his comment on the matter till 7:45pm Tuesday.
In the full judgment, the HC said, “It is abundantly clear that BGMEA, with the visible connivance of EPB, indulged upon a fraud of reprehensible diversity, to grab government’s property.”
Ordering demolition of the BGMEA building, the HC said that the land will have to be used in public purpose. “The fact that lots of money had been spent cannot be a ground to allow it to stay upright.”
“BGMEA must return money to those who bought flats in the building, as those transactions stand vitiated, within 12 months from the receipt of claims”, the judgment said, opining that the flat buyers cannot claim interest.
According to the judgment, there is no ownership of BGMEA on the building land. Because, land was acquired for the railway in 1960; later in 1998, the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) illegally gave the land to the BGMEA by a memo though EPB was not owner of that land till 2006, the judgment said.
In 2001, the EPB also tried to transfer the land to BGMEA by a written unregistered document but the Bureau itself didn’t get ownership of the land till that time.
Only in 2006, the EBP legally got ownership of the land for constructing a ‘twin tower’, a public purpose.
And the EPB cannot give the land to BGMEA in any way for constructing its own building where there is no public interest. Any acquired land is either returned to its original owner or used for any public purpose, the HC said.
The Hatirjheel Lake was termed a public purpose project in the judgment.
Apart from these, the building was erected without approval of the Dhaka Master Plan, Jaladhar Ain and Rajuk, as a result of which the authorities are bound to demolish the building.
(Source: Agencies)

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