HC bans allotment of Evacuee property

Fayaz Bukhari

SRINAGAR, Dec 17: Indulging in arbitrary allotments of Evacuee property by the Custodian Department, High Court today directed till the Government comes up with appropriate rules, there shall be complete ban on allotment of all Evacuee property in the State.
Dealing with a petition, Justice Sanjeev Kumar said the instant case is not an isolated case of arbitrary and illegal allotment made by Custodian/Custodian General, but the department of Custodian/Custodian General has been indulging in such arbitrary allotments of evacuee property in the same manner with impunity and directed that no allotment of Evacuee property shall be made without inviting public through public notifications.
“In the absence of specific Rules framed by the Government, regulating such allotments, the Department of Custodian General has free run and is indulging in the practices, which are not countenanced by law. The property of evacuees, worth crores of rupees, has been squandered in this manner”, read the verdict.
Justice Kumar further added that the Court has been coming across such instances time and again and observed the quashment of order impugned as this Court would do in this case, will not address and arrest the larger problem.
As such Court emphasized that the Government needs to rise to the occasion and come up with an appropriate legislation/rules, providing for allotment of evacuee property vested in the Custodian / Custodian General by virtue of the Act of 2006.
“Till such legislation/rules are framed by the Government pertaining to allotment of urban immovable evacuee properties including residential house(s) of evacuees, it would be incumbent upon Custodian to allot available properties/urban properties of evacuee(s) by adopting a fair and rational procedure, which is in consonance with Article 14 of the Constitution”, the Court directed.
Court directed that no allotment of Evacuee property shall be made unless applications by public notifications are invited from general public and applications, so received, dealt with in rational manner by adopting fair criteria/yardstick for selecting a person for allotment of such properties.
Court directed the copy of the order shall be sent to Chief Secretary, J&K, who shall take note of what has been observed by this Court and take effective steps for framing of appropriate Rules to comprehensively regulate allotment of urban properties including residential house(s) of the evacuee(s), vested in the Custodian under the Act of 2006.
It is evident, Court said that Custodian, who is enjoined under provisions of Act of 2006 and Rules framed to protect property of evacuees, is under obligation to evict such unauthorised occupants.
However, in the instant case, as trail of events reveal official respondents instead of taking effective steps to evict private respondents, regularized their unauthorised possession by passing impugned order of allotment in their favour.
As per own showing of Custodian General, the assessed value of property in question was Rs 11.50 Lacs, but Custodian General arbitrarily reduced its value by 70% and charged premium only to the tune of Rs.8.05 lakhs.
Lessees were further favoured with grant of long lease of 40 years with the permission to use the land for commercial purposes. They were further permitted to sublet the property to J&K Bank.
Custodian General, who was supposed to evict unauthorized occupants of the property in question and then put evacuee property to auction if it was of commercial value, by issuing impugned order of allotment, has not only violated provisions of Act of 2006 and Rules framed, but also acted in a manner which cannot be said to be anything short of committing fraud on the Constitution, particularly Article 14, which envisage right of equality to all.