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J&K Housing Board retrieves over Rs 100 Cr prime land at Gandhi Nagar

STATE TIMES NEWS

JAMMU: In a significant development, Jammu and Kashmir Housing and Urban Development Department on Sunday removed decades-old ‘encroachment’ on prime land worth over Rs 100 crore in posh Gandhi Nagar here during a special drive, senior officials said.
“We have removed encroachment on 7 kanals of prime land valuing over Rs 100 crore, under illegal possession for several decades,” Principal Secretary Housing and Urban Development Department Dheeraj Gupta, who supervised the anti-encroachment drive since late Saturday night, said.
Gupta said the land belonged to Jammu and Kashmir Housing Board. “We took the measure to protect the government land. There is no issue of it at all,” he said.
“The government has zero tolerance towards encroachments and is committed to evict every encroacher from government lands,” he said.
Locals who had occupied the prime land, however, said they were allotted the plots decades ago, a claim denied by the Housing Board.
The occupants of the land also claimed that a court had put a stay on any action by the government.
Denying the claim, a Housing Board official said, “This is not the plot of land which is under stay. It is an encroachment.”
The locals have produced a letter written by Secretary, Ministry of Housing to the Divisional Engineer Construction Division Jammu on May 10, 1957, which states that the Prime Minister has been pleased to confirm the verbal orders given by him for allotment of 5 plots of land measuring 50.6 kanals.
Late last night, a strong contingent of police accompanied by senior officials reached the Gole Market area in the posh Gandhi Nagar locality and retrieved the prime land.

All the entry points to Gole Market were sealed and no vehicle was allowed there during the drive, they said.
According to a statement issued by the Housing Department, the land, measuring 6.8 kanals was allotted to the J&K Housing Board by the government in 1980 and was envisaged to be used for construction of a Commercial Complex. The land was encroached and involved in undue litigation by the encroachers, who rested their claim on the government order of 1958 which they lost in the Supreme Court and High Court of J&K.
Elaborating the details of the land in question, the statement added that by virtue of Government Order issued in 1958, land measuring 74 Kanals-06 Marlas was transferred to Ziarat at Gandhi Nagar, Jammu. Subsequently 12 Kanals and 05 marla of land was later transferred from Ziarat on payment of compensation to Public Works Department.
The total area with Ziarat remained 62 Kanals-01 marla. Meanwhile in 1956, the land in Village Rakh Bahu was transferred to Gandhi Nagar Colony and the land measuring 62 Kanals and 01 Marla, transferred to Ziarat is situated in center of the colony. In 1959, the Muslim Wakaf Act was passed laying down procedure for administration of Wakaf property. Thus the land measuring 62 Kanals and one marla became Wakaf property. In 1967, the Wakaf Committee filed a suit in the Court of competent jurisdiction at Jammu to declare the land measuring 62 Kanals and 1 Marla as Wakaf property. The matter landed in the High Court, which in the Civil Second appeal No.04 of 1973 declared the land measuring 62 Kanals and 01 Marla as Wakaf property. Against the Order of High Court the private parties approached the Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No.1484 of 1974. On February 07, 1991 the Supreme Court upheld the decision of High Court, J&K declaring the land measuring 62 Kanals 01 Marlas as Wakaf property. Till date the private parties are enjoying the possession of 62 Kanals and 01 Marla land. Meanwhile, in 1980, vide Government Order No.125-UD of 1980 dated.25.02.1980, two patches of land were transferred to J&K Housing Board in Gole Market area.
Also it is pertinent to mention here that in 1983, the private parties approached the Munsiff Court, Jammu claiming possession and ownership of two plots measuring 160’+120×210, allotted to J&K Housing Board. The suit was dismissed on 15.09.1984. In 1994, J&K Housing Board initiated the process of constructing commercial complex at the site. While on the other patch (1.12 kanals), J&K Housing Board has already constructed Shopping cum Office Complex. The private parties took the matter of two patches of land to the High Court by challenging the orders of Lower Court. The High Court in OWP No.211/96 on 15.11.1999 dismissed their plea. The order of Single Bench was challenged by private parties in Division Bench and the Division Bench dismissed the appeal (OW No:69/2000). The private respondents filed review petition with the Single Bench in which they were allowed to agitate before right forum. On 26.06.2013, the Municipal Magistrate, Jammu dismissed the suit of the plantiffs (private parties) for possession and ownership of two patches of land in the Civil Suit file No.249/2012.
The private parties said that the Additional District Judge, Jammu has stayed decree of 29.06.2013 in the matter. However, the J&K Housing Board Officers informed that the private parties have no documents to substantiate their claim in Court of Law and time and again are relying on the Government Order of 1958 by virtue of which land stands transferred to Auqaf Department for ulterior motives despite the Supreme Court judgement against them in 1991.
In the instant case, the private parties are also relying on the same Government Order of 1958 and claim ownership and possession of two patches of land mentioned in the said Govt. Order. As the issue is already decided by the Supreme Court and doctrines of res-judicata come to force, their subsequent claims are all mischievous and faulty.
Also an area of 2155 Kanal and 05 Marla of land is recorded in Revenue records under the ownership and possession of J&K Housing Board in Gole Market area of Gandhi Nagar, Jammu and the encroachers are trying to engage the Auqaf and J&K Housing Board in mischievous litigation to keep the possession of the property.
The stand of Housing Board is clear that the land on which these encroachers are staking claim is having dimensions of 160’+120’x210′ i.e. measuring 24400 sqft. i.e. 5.4 Kanals which is not the land which is being protected by the Housing Board. The land allotted and in possession of J&K Housing Board is of altogether different dimensions and is measuring 6.8 kanals.

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