Right to Know

Islamabad Club spread on 352 acres land pays only Rs 27000 annually rent

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Club pays Rs 77 rupees per acre as lease rent to the Capital Development Authority (CDA), it was revealed in an order issued by the Pakistan Information Commission issued on an appeal of a citizen.

Nadeem Umer – who is also a journalist – filed an information request to the Islamabad club and sought information about the revenue generated by the memberships fee, games played, functions held in the club and also requested for the copy of the audit report.

The Islamabad Club refused to share the requested information to and claimed that the Club management do not come within the ambit of public body as defined in the Right of Access to Information Act 2017.

The citizen approached the Pakistan Information Commission and filled a complaint. In a response to the notice of the PIC, the club responded that the land comprising the Islamabad club has been leased in favour of the club by the CDA, club makes payment on account of lease to the CDA on yearly basis.

The copies of the pay orders in favour of CDA paid by the club reflect that an amount of Rs. 14,700/- on account of Annual Lease Rent of Islamabad Club land and Rs. 12,300/- on account of Annual Lease Rent of Polo Ground & Extension of golf Course for the year 2020-21 has been deposited in favour of the CDA.

The club is thus utilising the government land, on the lease, under its use. On this score alone the club comes within the definition of “public body” as mentioned in section 2(ix)(h) of the Act, order states.

Waseem Abid advocate – legal adviser of Islamabad – appeared on behalf of the club and presented his arguments and said, the land is availed on lease from the CDA and administrator of the club is also a government employee.

To a question by the commissioner about the membership, he said, membership fee for the government employee is Rs 3 lakh while for private member the fee is 20 lakh.

He added that a special audit of the Islamabad Club was conducted by the auditor general of Pakistan.

During the hearing, Zahid Abdullah – Information commissioner – said, rent of a small house in the Islamabad is more than 60 thousand rupees while the Islamabad Club is paying only 27000 rupees for 352 acres land located in the hub of the capital, which shows that the land given by the government is high subsidize.

Fawad Malik – Information Commissioner – argued – the club is operating under Presidential Ordinance No. XXXIII of 17th July 1978, the administrator of the club is a government employee and land availed from CDA is also government property, these are enough to decide whether the club falls within the ambit of public body or under the Right of Access to Information Act 2017.

The commission in its order has directed the management of Islamabad Club to provide the requested information to the citizen.

Similar kind of complaint against the Shalimar Club Rawalpindi is also pending before the Punjab Information Commission. The Punjab Information Commission has sought a report from the Deputy Commission Rawalpindi to decide whether the Shalimar Club falls within the ambit of the public body.

It is pertinent to mention that Shalimar Club is also established on the government land.

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