The Pakistani Supreme Court on Friday ordered freezing of accounts of the Islamabad and Rawalpindi wings of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), a establishment run under the umbrella of the army.
The top court ordered the freeze during the hearing of a case related to alleged irregularities in the accounts of government-sponsored Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOIB) and use of its funds for land purchase at rates much higher than market price and other activities in DHA ventures.
The order said the DHA accounts will remain frozen until it deposits Rs22 billion (Dh1.4 billion) in the state treasury.
It also said officials of the DHA in Islamabad and Rawalpindi will not open any new account until the deposit is made.
DHA runs posh housing schemes in different cities including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi mainly for army officers and affluent sectors of the society.
During the hearing of the case by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, a DHA lawyer pleaded that the court should not issue an order likely to lead to a fall in prices of land in the housing schemes.
The chief justice observed that no one should be under the illusion of being above the law and stressed that money belonging to the poor would be recovered.
The DHA lawyer contended that the EOIB amounts were used for land deals and development work and that everything was done under valid agreements.
The Federal Investigation Agency told the bench that so far it had detected irregularities in five housing projects.