DB expresses anguish over lethargic approach of Estates Deptt, terms situation intolerable

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Unauthorised occupation of Ministerial Bungalows/ Kothis

STATE TIMES NEWS

JAMMU: Division Bench of J&K High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and first Puisne Judge Justice Rajesh Bindal expressed deep anguish over approach of Estates Department for not taking serious steps for vacation of Ministerial Bungalows/ Govt Accommodations from ex-Ministers/ ex-Legislatures/ ex-Bureaucrats in UT of J&K on Saturday.
The Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal in the open court through video conferencing termed situation intolerable and directed AAGs BA Dar & Aseem Sawhney appearing for Govt of Jammu & Kashmir and Estates Department to file a comprehensive affidavit indicating arrears of rent, water, electricity and also amounts spent on renovation, repairs & maintenance particularly for period of illegal occupation by ex-Ministers/ ex-Legislatures/ ex-Bureaucrats.
When the PIL came-up for hearing, Adv Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for petitioner Prof S K Bhalla submitted that since June 2018, the ex-Ministers/ ex-Legislatures are over staying in Ministerial Bungalows/ A-Type Kothis and Estates Department has selectively got accommodations vacated but have not taken serious steps against illegal occupants, belonging to a particular political party.
Adv Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed specifically referred the list of unauthorised occupants furnished by AAG Aseem Sawhney with status report filed by Estates Department pursuant to directions of the Division Bench dated July 8, 2020. Adv S S Ahmed referred to Annexure-I wherein Estates Department disclosed names of illegal occupants namely family of Late G M Shah (Ex-CM) Bungalow No 11 Special Gandhi Nagar, Choudhary Lal Singh former Minister Bungalow No 2 PWD Gandhi Nagar, Kavinder Gupta former Deputy CM Bungalow No 4 Special Gandhi Nagar, Sunil Sharma ex-Minister Quarter No 14 Special Gandhi Nagar, Ravinder Raina Ex-MLA present President BJP Quarter No 13-A Gandhi Nagar, G M Saroori Ex-MLA Quarter No 23-A Gandhi Nagar, Mohd Shafi Uri Ex-MLA Quarter No 28-A Gandhi Nagar, Vikar Rasool Wani ex-MLA Quarter No 29-A Gandhi Nagar, Shakti Raj Parihar former Minister Quarter No 19-B Gandhi Nagar, Neelam Langeh Ex-MLA Quarter No 24-B Gandhi Nagar, Daleep Singh Parihar ex-MLA Quarter No 32-B Gandhi Nagar, Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar ex-MLA Quarter No 49-C Gandhi Nagar, Bali Bhagat former Minister Bungalow No 2 Wazarat Road Jammu, Sat Sharma former Minister Bungalow No 1 New Ghulami Bagh, Shukhnadan Choudhary ex-MLA Bungalow No 3 New Ghulami Bagh, R S Pathania Bungalow No 6 New Ghulami Bagh, Rajesh Gupta Ex-MLA Jammu East Quarter No 1 Wazarat Road, Zafar Iqbal Manhas Ex-MLC Quarter No 26-A Gandhi Nagar, Prof Bhim Singh ex-MLC Quarter No 30-B Gandhi Nagar (sub-judice), Ravinder Sharma ex-MLC Quarter No 4-B Gandhi Nagar (sub-judice), Vibodh Gupta ex-MLC Quarter No 53-C Gandhi Nagar, Pardeep Sharma ex-MLC Quarter No 3 Rehari Staff, Ashok Khajuria Ex-MLC Quarter No 11 Rehari staff, Tariq Ahmed Keen Political Person, Mohd Sultan Mandoo Political Person, Wazira Begum District President Congress, Shilpi Verma Political Person, Hasina, Shafiq Mir Chairman Panchayat Conference, Manohar Lal General Secretary BJP.
Adv S S Ahmed also invited attention of the Division Bench towards annexure-II wherein names of ex-Ministers/ political persons availing Govt/ private accommodation at Srinagar as on 22nd September 2020 were listed including Hakim Mohd Yasin ex-Minister, Ghulam Nabi Lone (Hanjura) ex-Minister, Syed Farooq Andrabi ex-Minister, Zahoor Ahmed Mir ex-Minister, Mohd Khalil Band ex-Minister, Nazir Ahmed Khan ex Deputy Speaker, M S Pandit Puri ex-MLA, Aijaz Ahmed Mir ex-MLA, Ali Mohd Dar ex-MLC, Bashir Ahmed Dar ex-MLA, Mustaq Ahmed Shah ex-MLA, Showkat Hussain Ganie ex-MLC, Mohd Altaf Wani ex-MLA, Dr Bashir Ahmed Veeri ex-MLC, Vikram Randhawa ex-MLC, Haji Abdul Rashid ex-MLA, Yasir Reshi ex-MLC, Abdul Rahim Rather ex-MLA, Mohd Yousaf Bhat ex-MLA, Mohd Amin Bhat ex-MLA, Shamima Firdous ex-MLA, Mohd Abbas ex-MLA, Raja Manzoor ex-MLA, Abdul Rahim Rather ex-Minister, Choudhary Mohd Ramzan ex-Minister, Mustaq Ahmed Tantray (political activist), Reyaz Ahmed Mir (political activist), Nazir Ahmed Malik (political activist), Zahid Hussain Jan (political activist), S S Chani (political activist), Parveen Lone (political activist), Maqsood Indrabi (political activist), Mohd Yousaf (political activist), G M Sheikh (political activist) Abdul Gani Vakil ex-MLC, Bashir Ahmed Mir Councilor SMC, Sonaullah Lone (political activist), Nasir Khan ex-MLC, Nizam-ud-Din Bhat ex-MLA, Rafi Ahmed Mir ex-MLA, Shoaib Ahmed Lone ex-MLA and Syed Mohd Rafi Shah ex-MLC.
Adv S S Ahmed referred some judgments of Supreme Court wherein the Apex court has ruled that after demitting the office, the ex-Ministers/ ex-Bureaucrats are not entitled to Govt accommodation. He further submitted that time bound directions are required to be issued to the Estates Department to ensure vacation of Ministerial Bungalows/Govt accommodations from ex-Ministers/ ex-Bureaucrats.
On a specific query from Division Bench, B A Dar AAG fairly submitted that there is no provision for providing accommodation to ex-ministers/ ex-Babus in J&K. AAG Aseem Sawhney informed the Division Bench that there are regulations in J&K for regulating allotments by Estates Department. However, Division Bench observed that there is no such provision to provide accommodations to ex-legislators/ ex-ministers who have outlived their tenure. Considering seriousness of matter, the Division Bench directed the Govt of Jammu & Kashmir to file separate tabulation and affidavit indicating charges on maintenance/white-wash particularly after demitting of office by unauthorised occupants and same were directed to be filed within two weeks.
Division Bench further directed the Registry to serve a copy of today’s order along with a copy of compliance report filed by AAG Aseem Sawhney upon all those who are occupying Govt accommodations. Division Bench was also informed by AAG BA Dar that there are certain stay orders/interim directions issued from various courts and Estates Department is not in a position to proceed further in the matter. DB openly observed that any such order/direction issued in violation of Supreme Court judgments can’t be of any benefit as law declared by the Supreme Court is the final word on the subject.
Division Bench, at this stage, directed both AAGs to furnish details of all such cases before the next date of hearing. Looking into the importance of matter, the DB directed Registry to re-notify the instant PIL on December 22, 2020.

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