Directions issued on encroachment of land by ex-Minister
JAMMU, Feb 20: In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) titled Ankur Sharma and State of J&K and Others challenging the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, Division Bench of State High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan today expressed shock over the status report filed by the Government regarding beneficiaries.
“It is very shocking state of affairs which had prevailed and the manner in which the land encroachers in Jammu and Kashmir have become owners of large trenches of public land by the operation of the Roshni Scheme”, the DB observed and directed the respondents to file an affidavit of an officer not below the rank of Secretary, Revenue Department affirming that the list furnished before the court is correct and complete in all respects.
The DB further directed the respondents to effect a calculation of the value of the public land which has been vested in the encroachers and furnish the list before the court. “We would also like to be informed of the division of the land in terms of its classification as urban, rural, forest land or of any other nature”, DB added.
Pointing towards the news report dated 16th February 2020 mentioning that illegal entries on 659 acres of forest and State land detected in Jammu, the DB said, “perusal of the report shows that the Deputy Commissioner, Jammu has unearthed the illegal entries on the forest and the State land on 659 acres and two places in Jammu. The matter regarding examination of illegal entries is still going on”.
The DB, accordingly, directed the Deputy Commissioner, Jammu to ensure that enquiries in to all such entries is effected expeditiously and Deputy Commissioner shall ensure that strict action is taken against the public and private person who are responsible for these entries.
DB further directed Deputy Commissioner, Jammu to draw the list of the beneficiaries of such fake entries as well as the persons who were placed in the positions of authority responsibility when such fake entries were effected in the revenue records. “All steps for recovering the land which may have been illegally encroached on the basis of such fake entries shall be taken forthwith and a report filed in this regard”, the DB added.
In another petition filed by Advocate Ankur Sharma seeking registration of FIR against Ex-BJP Cabinet Minister Abdul Gani Kohli and others for encroaching 10 kanals forest land at Nowabad Sunjwan, Division Bench directed that a copy of entire paper book including the writ petition and all the status reports on record be made available to the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu as well as the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
“They shall scrutinize the entire records and a report be submitted to us after careful and complete scrutiny, not only the court record and status reports but also the relevant records and documents”, the DB said, adding “these officers shall cause a physical inspection of the land to be undertaken and, if necessary, fresh demarcation be conducted by an officer not below the rank of Deputy Commissioner”.
Pointing towards the reports dated 1st June, 2016 and 27th March, 2017, the DB observed, “even if the report of the Senior Superintendent of Police that the land in question was a state land was to be accepted, it is shocking that concerned authorities have not only permitted continuation of the encroachment but enable buildings to come up on State land without having taken any action for the same”.
“Another important aspect is as to how no objections stand granted to run educational institutions and banking facilities in the property constructed on the land which has been encroached”, the DB said, adding “the fact that forest land has been registered in the name of private parties is also illegal and a serious matter”.
DB directed that report regarding the land in question shall be filed within four weeks from today. The DB also issued notice to the Secretary, Board of School Education, Jammu returnable on 12th March 2020 to explain as to how the ETT institution has been permitted to be run on public/forest land. Even notice has been issued to Secretary, Revenue Department as to how the forest land has been registered in the name of private persons.