RAWALPINDI: Malik Riaz Hussain’s real estate empire was dealt a blow on Friday after the property tycoon lost a long-drawn legal battle over the right to the name ‘Bahria Town’. A local court in Rawalpindi, handing down a verdict in the over a decade old case between the naval subsidiary Bahria Foundation and Malik Riaz, accepted the former’s petition – originally filed in 2002 – to restrain the magnate from using the name ‘Bahria’ for his housing society.
“We will appeal this order at the next appellate forum accordingly,” Qaiser Qadeer Qureshi, Mr Riaz’s legal adviser, said.
He told Dawn: “So far, the court announced a short order and are awaiting a detailed verdict. After examining that, Bahria Town will file an appeal.”
According to Mr Qureshi, the appellate forum could be the high court or a district and sessions court. According to the details of the case, Hussain Global – a property firm linked to Malik Riaz – signed an agreement with the Bahria Foundation in 1996 to set up Bahria Town.
The foundation was established in January 1982 as a charitable trust under the Endowment Act 1890. The Bahria Foundation Committee of Administration (COA), headed by the chief of the naval staff, consists of eight members, including the foundation’s managing director.
Under the agreement that Mr Riaz signed with the foundation, the naval subsidiary was offered a 10 per cent share for the use of the name ‘Bahria’ for the private housing scheme. The remaining amount was divided between Hussain Global, Malik Riaz and his family members.
In the year 2000, the foundation asked Mr Riaz not to use the ‘Bahria’ name for his housing society and on Feb 24 of the same year, the property mogul signed an agreement with the Bahria Foundation to the same effect.
Agreeing not to use the name permanently, Mr Riaz’ people did request that they may be allowed to retain the name for another 18 months.
However, in 2002, Malik Riaz obtained a stay order from a local court, alleging that Bahria Foundation has forced him to sign the agreement.
Since then, the tycoon has expanded his housing project manifold and, to date, has sold a massive number of housing and commercial units in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.
Bahria Foundation counsel Sheikh Khizer Rashid told Dawn that the foundation never pressurised Malik Riaz and he agreed not to use the ‘Bahria’ name of his own free will.
“He signed the deal in the presence of the company’s registrar,” he said.
According to him, Mr Riaz did not appear in court to prove the allegation that he was forced to sign the 2002 agreement.
A spokesperson for the navy, when contacted, said that since the court had already passed an order in the matter, he would not comment on it.
Nazir Jawad, a former legal adviser to the housing ministry, told Dawn that Mr Riaz could not use the ‘Bahria’ name until the judgment is suspended or set aside.
“It is a setback for the tycoon and the order endangers agreements Malik Riaz has signed with the national and international firms,” he said.
Mr Jawad said that Mr Riaz had the option of appealing against the decision before a sessions judge and the high court. The order would attain finality if the Supreme Court upheld it, he added.