Unauthorized occupation of ministerial bungalows, quarters
*Estates Deptt report reveals names of ex-Ministers, legislators
JAMMU, Dec 5: Division Bench of High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and First Puisne Judge Justice Rajesh Bindal today expressed deep anguish over failure of the Estates Department in taking serious steps for vacation of Ministerial bungalows/ Govt accommodations from ex-Ministers/ex-Legislatures/ ex-Bureaucrats in the UT of J&K.
The Division Bench, in the open court through video conferencing, termed the situation intolerable and directed the AAGs BA Dar and Aseem Sawhney appearing for the Govt of Jammu & Kashmir and Estate Department to file a comprehensive affidavit indicating the arrears of rent, water, electricity and also amounts spent on renovation, repairs and maintenance particularly for the period of illegal occupation by the ex-Ministers/ex-Legislatures and ex-Bureaucrats.
When the PIL came-up for hearing, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for the petitioner submitted that since June 2018, the ex-Ministers/ex-Legislatures are over staying in the ministerial bungalows/ A Type Kothies and the Estate Department has selectively got the accommodations vacated but have not taken serious steps in ensuring the illegal occupants belonging to a particular political party.
He specifically referred the list of unauthorized occupants furnished by AAG Aseem Sawhney with the status report filed by Estates Department pursuant to the directions of the Division Bench dated July 8, 2020. He also referred to Annexure-I wherein Estates Department disclosed the names of illegal occupants like late GM Shah (ex-CM) Bungalow No 11 Special Gandhinagar, 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, GM 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 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 Gulabi Bagh, Shukhnadan Choudhary ex-MLA Bungalow No 3 New Gulabi Bagh, RS Pathania, Bungalow No 6 New Gulabi 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 Qtr No 53-C Gandhi Nagar, Pardeep Sharma, ex-MLC Quarter No 3 Rehari Staff, Ashok Khajuria, ex-MLC Qtr 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 Panchyat Confernce and Manohar Lal Gen Secy BJP.
Advocate Ahmed also invited attention of the Division Bench towards Annexure-II mentioning the names of the ex-Ministers/political persons availing Govt/private accommodation at Srinagar as on 22nd of September 2020 including Hakim Mohd Yasin, Ex-Minister, Ghulam Nabi Lone (Hanjura), Ex-Minister, Syed Farooq Indrabi, Ex-Minister, Zahoor Ahmed Mir, Ex-Minister, Mohd Khalil Band, Ex-Minister, Nazir Ahmed Khan, Ex Deputy Speaker, MS Pandit Puri, Ex-MLA, Aijaz Ahmed Mir, Ex-MLA, Ali Mohd Dar, Ex-MLC, Bahsir 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), SS Chani (political activist), Parveen Lone (political activist), Maqsood Indrabi (political activist), Mohd Yousaf (political activist), GM Sheikh (political activist) Abdul Gani Vakil, ex-MLC, Bashir Ahmed Mir, Councillor 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.
Advocate Ahmed further referred sorrel judgments of the Apex Court wherein it has been ruled that after demitting the office, the Ex-Ministers/Ex-Bureaucrats are not entitled to the Govt accommodation. He further submitted that time bound directions are required to be issued to the Estates Department to ensure vacation of Ministerial Bunglows/Govt Accommodations from Ex-Ministers/Ex-Bureaucrats.
On a specific query from the Division Bench, BA Dar, AAG fairly submitted that there is no provision for providing accommodation to the 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 the Estates Department.
However, Division Bench observed that there is no such provision to provide accommodations to the ex-legislators/ ex-ministers who have outlived their tenure. Considering the seriousness of the matter, DB directed the Govt of Jammu & Kashmir to file separate tabulation and affidavit indicating the charges on maintenance/white wash particularly after the demitting of office by the unauthorized occupants and these details were directed to be filed within two weeks.
Division Bench further directed the Registry to serve a copy of order along with a copy of the compliance report filed by AAG Aseem Sawhney upon all those who are occupying the Govt accomodation.
Division Bench was also informed by AAG BA Dar that there are certain stay orders/interim directions issued from various courts and the Estates Department is not in a position to proceed further in the matter. Accordingly, DB openly observed that any such order/direction issued in violation of Supreme Court judgments cannot be of any benefit as the law declared by the Supreme Court is the final word on the subject.
Division Bench, at this stage, directed both AAGs to furnish the details of all such cases before the next date of hearing. Looking into the importance of the matter, the DB directed Registry to re-notify the instant PIL on December 22.