By Raza Ruman
(Pakdestiny.com) Finally Pakistan Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique today faced “embarrassing defeat” in the honourable court for illegally occupying the the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club.
The Lahore High Court on Monday ordered handing back all operations of the Royal Palm and Country Club to its management – The Mainland Husnain Pakistan Ltd (MHPL), headed by Ramzan Sheikh, with immediate effect.
In its short order, LHC Judge Shamas Mehmood Mirza directed to “immediately allow the management (MHPL) of the club to restore the golf and sporting facilities for the members.”
The court further ordered constitution of committee to run the club’s affairs, rendering the railways committee in this regard ineffective.
“The finance department shall be managed by a committee headed by KPMG, a chartered accountant firm. Mr Kamran Yousfi, the senior partner of KPMG shall head a committee comprising Mr Pervaiz Qureshi, director of the club and Ghulam Murtaz. member Finance. The committee shall take decisions by majority votes.The committee shall also remit money for day to day affairs of the club.
The court however said the Pakistan Railways police to stay in the club. The court also directed the railways to file its reply on next hearing on Sept 1, 2016. The Pakistan Railways had taken over the management and possession of the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club on June 24 on the order of Saad Rafique.
Following Rafique’s order, a contingent of the PR police marched towards the club and evicted the management from the premises and closed its doors to members and staffers. Rafique took the plea that the management of the company owed huge amount to the PR. Failing to pay its dues the railways had decided to take over the club, the minister took the plea to justify his action. MHPL, the management of club, denied the allegations of the minister.
It not only filed an application with police for registration of FIR against Rafique and other senior officers of railways for illegally taking over the club premises but also maintained that it had paid Rs550 million to the railways administration from 2001 to 2014.
A case in this regard has already been pending in the Supreme Court and there had been clear direction from the court that the railways cannot take over the club management. “We know that a case is currently pending in Supreme Court of Pakistan but the club management has defaulted on the dues and what we did is legal,” Rafique tried to justify earlier.
“Today the court vindicated our stance and restored the right of the club members,” said a member of MHPL. “All bookings in the club prior to the railway’s take over has been restored,” he said, adding the railways should not respect the court’s order and its police must not harass our staff and club members.
Saad Rafique’s dream to run the club through his puppet — Railway Estate Development and Marketing Company – may not be fulfilled now. This company earlier issued plan to run the club. The railways under Saad Rafique spent millions of rupees on advertisement in order to hoodwink the general public that the railways ‘take over’ was right. But in the end justice prevailed.
The LHC’s order has brought immense happiness to 1,000 employees of the club who now get salaries before Eid. “I was so worried after the railways refused to pay me salary after take over. Eid was approaching while me and my hundreds other colleagues were without salary. Thank God and judiciary we got salary today evening and now I will buy new clothes and shoes for my children for Eidul Fitr,” says a visibly happy Hamid, a club employee, while talking to Pak Destiny. — Pak Destiny