The bench of Justices AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury and Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain had issued the order on Apr 3, 2011 to demolish the headquarters of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
“The full text of the verdict on demolition of the BGMEA Bhaban has been published today [Tuesday]. The implementation of the order was stayed until now following the defendants’ plea,” Deputy Attorney General Amit Talukdar told bdnews24.com.
The defendants would be able to appeal against the judgement on obtaining a copy of the verdict’s full text, he said. “If any plea is made, it will be settled by the Appellate Division.”
The verdict said the BGMEA Bhaban was like a cancer in the Hatirjheel project and if the building is not taken down immediately, it will infect not just the Hatirjheel project but also the whole Dhaka City.
It also said the BGMEA would have to return the money to those they had sold flats and spaces of the building to within one year after the buyers claim refund.
The High Court verdict said the deal with the buyers was illegal as BGMEA had no rights to construct the building at the precise spot and sell any of its space.
It also said ‘the logic to leave a certain influential quarter with strong financial backup beyond the reach of law is completely unacceptable’.
“BGMEA, as an important organisation, should have been more respectful to law. But they undermined the law.”
One of the BGMEA lawyers, Mostafizur Rahman, on Tuesday told bdnews24.com: “We will seek permission to appeal against the law as soon as possible once we get the certified copy of the verdict.”
He said it was legally mandatory to appeal within two months after the publication of a verdict.
The High Court in 2011 had ordered demolition of the building as the apex apparel body constructed the building at Karwan Bazar without having ownership of the land as well as in violation of the Building Construction Rule and the Wetlands Protection Act.
The court also ordered Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka district and Inspector General of Police to investigate how the building was constructed violating the rules.
The capital’s development agency RAJUK had long been saying the BGMEA building was not constructed as per the design it approved. Environmental organisations were also demanding demolition of the building.
Following a special report on the illegally erected building, the High Court issued a rule on Oct 3, 2010 asking the government to explain why the structure would not be pulled down.
The BGMEA decided to build their headquarters on a side of the Begunbari Canal beside Sonargaon Hotel in 1998. The garment factory owners’ association had bought the piece of land from the Export Promotion Bureau for Tk 51.7 million with the government's approval. The construction began on Nov 28 the same year.
According to allegations, the building did not adhere to the city development law of 1953. Allegations also have it that the garment factory owners' headquarters violate the building construction law of 1952 because Dhaka's real estate regulator, RAJUK, had not approved of the building's design.
As the BGMEA does not have the ownership of the land, it must have to be evicted, the court said in its directive. It added that the building hinders the water flow of Begunbari canal and creates obstruction for the Hatirjheel project.
The canal must be restored to its original state and the project has to follow the actual design.
As regards some floors of the building that were handed over to the investors through lease and sale, the court observed that the investors should have given it a thought before investing in an illegal project.
But the investors can seek protection citing agreement and alleging fraud, the order said. But right now the court said it was not issuing any direction.
Inspector General of Police, DMP Commissioner and Dhaka district’s DC head have been ordered to take steps against the responsible who were behind the construction.
It also ordered the Department of Environment to take steps against those who had violated the Wetlands Protection Act and erected the building.
The court noted that the workers should follow safety measures and use adequate equipment while demolishing the BGMEA building.
The High Court, in its observation, said, "There was huge fraud behind the construction of the building. In 1910 or sometimes later the land was acquired for the East-Bengal Railway. Bangladesh Railway was the owner of the land till 2006.The land was handed over to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) for the construction of a world trade centre in 2006.
The documents, the BGMEA authorities submitted to the court, claim that they had bought the land from EPB in 2001. How the purchase could take place needs to be duly investigated.
"This smacks of land grabbing, if anything else,'' the court said mentioning that vested quarter was behind this deal.