HC grants relief to Gulmarg hoteliers, lifts ban on renovations

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, Dec 21: In a major relief to the hoteliers, whose renovations or repairs of their buildings were stopped, the High Court has directed the Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) to refer the cases to Judges’ committee for consideration strictly in terms of statute and merit. The Court also directed the trial court to expeditiously proceed in the Gulmarg land scam case.
The Division Bench of Justice MH Attar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey made it clear that only those constructional activities are to be stopped which are being raised without grant of permission by the competent authority. The court directed the GDA that applications for grant of permission for renovation/construction at tourist spot shall be immediately referred to Judges’ committee for approval.
“If any application for the purpose of grant of permission for effecting renovation or construction at Gulmarg, are made to the CEO GDA, then he shall immediately refer the same to the Judges’ committee constituted by the court”, DB said and added the court committee  shall visit the spot and make recommendations as directed by the court in its earlier orders.
Court directed the GDA to consider the matter in terms of statute and merit and pass order either for grant of permission for renovation, reconstruction or declining the same.
Court further asked to all those persons, who will file fresh applications for grant of permission with regard to renovation or construction shall deposit the requisite fee before the Registry of the court within one week from the date applications are filed with the CEO, Gulmarg.
Court added that all constructional material, which is being transported illegally, shall be seized by the authorities.
Court has modified its earlier orders in which blanket ban was imposed by the court on all construction in and around the tourist spot, after the submission made by the Advocate General of the State  that because of the court directions all constructional activities, which are to be carried out in pursuance to valid permissions, have come to stand still at Gulmarg.
Court after perusal of the infamous Gulmarg land scam record directed the trial court to expeditiously proceed in the matter in accordance with law. It is pertinent the trial court record was summoned by the court earlier and today the same has been sent back to the trial court for proceedings. “In view of the submissions made by the AG, record of the trial court was called for. Its perusal revealed that the trial court has observed that he will proceed in the matter on the basis of material produced before him by the Investigating agency”, DB said.
In the status report filed by court committee constituted on previous hearing of the matter which is comprising of Deputy Commissioner Baramulla and Senior Superintendent of Police Baramulla, it is stated by them that immediately after receipt of court order dated 2.12.16 the aforementioned two authorities visited Gulmarg and they did not find any illegal construction going on within the local areas of tourist place at Gulmarg.
They also stated in their status report that directions have been issued to the officials of GDA, SDPO and SHO Tangmarg to ensure that no illegal construction is carried out at tourist place of Gulmarg that ‘Nakas’ have been established at specific locations in Gulmarg area to prevent entry of any material for construction purposes.
Court also reiterated that direction to stop the constructional activities as also constructional material be not allowed in and around the Gulmarg area was passed in view of earlier report of CEO GDA in which it transpires that permissions were granted without grant of permission by the competent authority.
Senior Advocate Z A Shah who represents petitioners in some connected petitions, submitted that because of non-framing of Master Plan for Gulmarg, the people are facing huge difficulties. “Responding to the said submissions, the AG stated that the Draft MP will be placed before the Cabinet for its approval”, read the order of DB.
“We hope and trust that in the interest of State and the Government itself, the decision in this regard will be taken at the earliest. Compliance report in this behalf shall be filed before the next date  of hearing”, court said.