STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: In a significant order, a Division Bench of the J&K High Court comprising Chief Justice (Acting) Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Sanjay Dhar while expressing displeasure over continuation of unauthorised occupation by 72 occupants over ministerial bungalows /A-type Kothis by several former Ministers/ ex-MLAs/ ex-MLCs/ political persons/ bureaucrats and advocates/public prosecutors, directed the Estates Department to upload details of all such accommodations and occupants in UT of J&K on website of the Department. The court observed that occupation of the Govt Houses is going on for years together despite categoric Judgments of Supreme Court delivered in year 2018 titled Lok Parhari through its General Secretary V/s the State of UP & Ors and Division Bench Judgment of J&K High Court titled Thakur Randhir Singh V/s State of J&K, wherein it has been held that Govt. Houses cannot be allotted to aforesaid persons.After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for petitioner in PIL No.17/2020 whereas AAGs B A Dar and Aseem Sawhney appearing for Estates Department of J&K Government, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice (Acting) observed that compliance report dated December 21, 2020 has been filed by Director, Estates J&K and Annexures attached to same exhibit how the public properties and public money is being mis-utilised. The list of illegal occupants presented a strange reading. A bungalow has been provided to family of Late G M Shah, ex-Chief Minister at Jammu and it was pointed out by AAG B A Dar that family of Late G M Shah, Ex-CM owns a house at Srinagar where even security has also been provided. The DB observed, “Here question arises as to what was the need to allot house to family of Late G M Shah, ex-CM at Jammu, when the family owns accommodation at Srinagar and is residing there.”The Division Bench referred to Annexure-I containing details of monthly security expenses being incurred by Government on 72 persons who have been allotted Govt. Accommodation at Jammu and Srinagar and details of the accommodations allotted to these types of persons in other cities in J&K is not forthcoming. The aforesaid information is required to be furnished before the next date of hearing.The Division Bench further observed that some of names, as is evident from the list, are merely mentioned as Political Workers. Some are even Advocates or Ex-Public Prosecutors. As to under what capacity they have been allotted the Govt. Accommodations is not forthcoming on record as there is no justification available. The list provided shows that by providing security to Former Ministers/ MLAs/ MLCs in 9 cases, only monthly expenses of Rs.32,44,713 is being made at Jammu and Srinagar.The Division Bench also referred Annexure-RII containing details of pending arrears of electricity and water bills against occupants of the Govt. Accommodation. All the 72 allottees of Govt. Accommodation, to which apparently they don’t have any right in view of Judgment of the Supreme Court, there are lakhs of rupees due on account of electricity and water charges. Total amount due is Rs 56,89,524.00 and few names amongst defaulters are family of Late G M Shah-Rs.2,39,363, Ch Lal Singh-Rs.1,81,155, Kavinder Gupta (Former Dy CM)-Rs.7,69,659, Sunil Sharma (Ex-Minister)-Rs.3,73,463, K B Aggarwal (Ex-Chairperson)-Rs.4,31,906, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura (Ex-MLA)-Rs.2,60,790, Nazir Ahmed Khan (Ex-Deputy Speaker)-Rs.2,52,706, Pandith Puri (Ex-MLA) Rs.1,04,324, Abdul Gani Vakil (Ex-MLA)-Rs 5,88,444, Nazir Ahmed Malik (Political Person)-Rs.1,58,410, Zahid Hussain Jan (District President Congress)-Rs.3,31,624, S S Channi (Political Person)-Rs.1,13,752, Ajaz Ahmed Mir (Ex-MLA)-Rs.2,43,262, Bashir Ahmed Dar (Ex-MLA)-Rs.1,03,926, Yasir Reshi (Ex-MLA)-Rs.2,57,589 and Raja Manzoor (Ex-MLA)-Rs.3,67,441.The Division Bench also considered Annexure-RIII with the status report showing details of Farash/ Servant/ Gardner/ Supervisors provided at the residence of 72 persons who have been allotted Govt. Accommodation and the monthly expenses incurred by Government in that regard. The total monthly expenses incurred on that account for 72 persons is Rs 7,93,049. The only explanation given for providing servants at expense of the Government is that the Govt. accommodation has to be maintained by it at its expense, hence the Farash/ Servant/ Gardener/ Supervisor have been provided. The argument apparently is misconceived as under Law or under any Rules, no such servants can be provided to a person who is not a Govt employee or otherwise entitled to.The Division Bench also referred to Annexure-IV providing information pertaining to the rent due against occupants of Govt. Accommodation besides the expenses incurred on its renovation and maintenance. The Division Bench referred few names against whom lakhs of rupees are due on account of rent but still they are allowed to occupy Government accommodation and their names along with arrears are Sunil Sharma Ex-Minister (Rs.2,88,860 rent and Rs.2,70,000 incurred on repair/ renovation/ white wash), K B Aggarwal Ex-Chairperson (Rs 1,60,046/- rent and Rs.2,80,000 incurred on repair/ renovation/ white wash), Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura Ex-MLA (Rs 2,55,349), Abdul Gani Vakil Ex-MLC (Rs.5,25,825 rent), Nazir Ahmed Malik-Political Person (Rs 1,85,250 rent), Zahid Hussain Jan-District President Congress (Rs 1,77,330 rent), S S Channi-Political Person (Rs 3,01,050 rent), Parveena Lone-Political Person (Rs 2,88,524/- rent and Rs 50,000/- incurred on repair/ renovation/ white wash), Mushtaq Ahmed Tantray-Political Person (Rs 2,56,600 rent and Rs.3,30,000 incurred on repair/ renovation/ white wash), Mohd Amin Bhat (Ex-MLA) (Rs.1,33,840 rent and Rs.1,21,000 incurred on repair/ renovation/ white wash), Reyaz Ahmed Mir-Political Person (Rs 3,80,210 rent and Rs.90,000 incurred on repair/ renovation/ white wash), Mohd Abbas Ex-MLA (Rs 1,49,569 rent), Javid Ahmed Mir-Advocate/Political Person (Rs 2,23,480/- rent) and Rafi Ahmed Mir Ex-MLA (Rs 1,43,238 rent and Rs 18,000 incurred on repair/ renovation/ white wash).The Division Bench further observed that total amount due on account of rent from occupants of these houses is Rs.55,70,535 and besides that a sum of Rs.78,71,000 has been spent by the Government on repair and maintenance of the houses in possession of the aforementioned persons. The Division Bench noted with concern case of Abdul Rahim Rather (Ex-Minister) as t status report disclosed that a private house was hired at a monthly rent of Rs 43,000 which was in his occupation, however the same was de-hired vide order dated 23-03-2018. However, he is still in possession of aforesaid house and sum of Rs 15,48,000 is due from him towards the landlord.The Division Bench, while parting with the order, observed and directed that the concerned Departments, who are managing Governmental residential accommodations, are directed to upload details of all such accommodations in the UT of J&K on website of the Department including details of the persons in occupation thereof, further specifying whether person is a serving Govt. employee, retired or a political person. Looking into the public interest involved, the DB directed the Registry to re-notify the instant PIL for February 18, 2021.
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