DB warns of contempt action as court appointed panel points out complete inaction on directives

Div Com, JDA come under sharp criticism for non-seriousness
Removal of encroachments, illegal constructions near Tawi river

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Dec 4: Division Bench of State High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan has warned to initiate contempt action against all the concerned authorities as the court appointed committee has pointed out that directions regarding removal of encroachments and illegal constructions in and around Tawi river from Nagrota to Mandal Phallian have remained un-complied with.
Now, the highest court of the State has passed orders for immediate start of action on ground, the outcome of which will be analyzed on December 13, 2018 when the Public Interest Litigation titled Ashish Sharma and Another Versus State of J&K and Others will come up for further hearing.
It is pertinent to mention here that EXCELSIOR in its edition dated October 31, 2018 had exclusively highlighted that several Government agencies have been soft-paddling on removal of illegal constructions and encroachments on the State land near bed of Tawi river from Nagrota to Phallian Mandal even after preparation of lists of violators and drawing of calendar of action as a result of which numerous directions of the High Court have remained unimplemented.
This has been substantiated by three member committee headed by former District and Sessions Judge Ashok Kumar Sharma in its report dated December 1, 2018, which read: “The directions issued on November 17, 2016 for removal of illegal constructions/ encroachments near Tawi river bed from Nagrota to Phallian Mandal have remained un-complied with and majority of the encroachments are still intact”.
Moreover, the committee has pointed out violation of the ban imposed by the Division Bench of the High Court on new constructions in and around the Tawi river bed. In paragraph-3 of the report, reference has been made to an under construction residential house noted by the committee on November 22, 2018.
“The committee has informed the Jammu Development Authority as well as Divisional Commissioner Jammu of the violation but no action has been taken”, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice observed when the PIL came up for hearing yesterday, adding “let the committee place before us the details of the violator and we shall consider initiation of contempt action against the persons and authorities who have been found violating order dated December 28, 2016”.
The DB has also sought digital photographs of the violation from the committee while extending its term for a period of one year from yesterday on the terms and conditions as directed by order dated December 28, 2016 when the committee was constituted.
“The term of the committee expired on November 30, 2018 but extension is imperative as its work is not yet over. Moreover, the committee is giving important suggestions on various aspect relating to encroachments near Tawi river”, the DB said.
Observing that 250 kanals of land retrieved at Nagrota has not been protected, the DB directed the Jammu Development Authority to forthwith remove all debris of the demolished structures as pointed out by the court appointed committee in its report dated December 1, 2018.
“The JDA shall initiate process for fencing the land which has been retrieved after removal of encroachment for the time being. The steps shall also be initiated for the construction of boundary wall to ensure that the encroachments do not reoccur”, the DB further directed, adding “JDA shall forthwith take steps to comply with the directions issued on December 17, 2016 to ensure that all encroachments and illegal constructions are forthwith removed”.
The DB further directed: “The encroachments removal exercise shall be photographed as well as video-graphed and report in respect thereof be placed on record. Moreover, the boundaries of the land which is retrieved shall also be placed on the site plans which shall be filed along with the report by the JDA”.
The DB has also directed the Senior Superintendent of Police Jammu as well as the Revenue Department to ensure cooperation and facilitate removal of encroachments by the JDA authorities. “The JDA shall also take strict action on any complaint received by it from the members of the committee highlighting the illegal constructions”, the DB said.
It is pertinent to mention here that in this PIL, the Division Bench passed numerous directions on July 29, 2016, November 17, 2016, December 28, 2016, February 6, 2017, July 17, 2017, August 25, 2017, September 25, 2017 and November 1, 2017 respectively in order to put a full stop on encroachments and illegal constructions on State land near River Tawi bed.
However, the directions were not strictly complied with by any Government agency much to the disappointment of all those who want to protect the river bed from shrinking further due to the activities of land mafia in connivance with the functionaries of concerned departments.