Govt at liberty to act against buildings: HC

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, May 10: The State High Court today said that Government is at liberty to take action against the illegal structures and buildings which have been raised in violation of the building permission and Master Plan in Srinagar city.
The State Counsel today informed the Division Bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan that the Master Plan for the Srinagar has been approved by the (SAC) and in this connection a notification has also been issued.
With these submissions the amicus to the PIL Senior Advocate R A Jan submitted before the Court that the authorities can now act against those constructions which have been raised in violation of law as also Master Plan.
While referring to the notification passed on March 7, 2019 which read that the Government after having examined the draft Master Plan of Srinagar and recommendations submitted by the Evaluation Committee approved the said Master Plan for Srinagar-2035, along with recommendations of the Committee with modifications vide (SAC).
Pertinently court in 2013 regarding huge violations of Master Plan had directed for sealing of all those complexes, shopping malls raised in Srinagar city in violation of Master Plan and provision of building permission.
After sealing all these structures by Srinagar Municipal Corporation the then coalition Government of (NC-Congress) to deal with the situation, came with a legislation under the name of Jammu and Kashmir Civil Laws (Special Provisions) Act 2014 for protection of these structures which including shopping complexes and malls in Srinagar city which have been raised in violation of building permission and Master Plan, as the court direction for sealing of these structures was in force.
The said act (moratorium) provided that no building or structure raised in violation of Master Plan shall not be demolished or sealed till finalization of policy to deal with unauthorized construction. “…no building or structure shall be demolished or sealed, and no penalty shall be imposed in respect of such building or structure, on the ground of such building or structure having been constructed or erected in violation of master plan pending finalization of the policy under section 3”, read the act.
The said Act came into force on March, 2014 and was enforceable up to March 2015. Thereafter the next coalition Government of PDP-BJP in the month of April 2015 introduced a bill in Assembly seeking extension of moratorium on action against unauthorized constructions till December 2015 so as to complete the revision of Master Plan.
The said act was extended to all the areas with the jurisdiction of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Srinagar Development Authority, Jammu Municipal Corporation as also to Jammu Development Authority. Since the extension time of the act (Jammu and Kashmir Civil Laws (Special Provisions) Act 2014) lost its force in September 30 last year as such as per law the directions of the court with regard to sealing of unauthorized structures shall become operational after September 30 and the authorities (SMC) were duty bound to take steps against the unauthorized structures in terms of previous court directions.
The PIL was filed on account of public concern about large scale violations of various Acts and Building Laws prepared for planned development of Srinagar city and it has been stated in the petition that a number of buildings, commercial complexes have come up in violation of these acts and laws with tacit approval of the authorities like SMC, LAWDA and SDA.
It has been alleged in the instant PIL that though the officers and officials responsible for preventing illegal constructions, demolish constructions so raised in some case took half hearted steps and emboldening others to take law in their own hands and allowed them to raise constructions whatever they desire to raise.