Srinagar, Feb 26: The High Court today directed for submitting the details of all permissions granted by Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) and details of leased out properties as the court has been informed that despite the ban on constructions, they are going on.
Court was hearing a suo-moto cognizance of news item reported in ‘Daily Excelsior’ in the month of October last year with regard to illegal construction on some huts in famous tourist resort Gulmarg and today after informing that despite the ban imposed by the Court on all constructions, the same are going on with impunity, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice D S Thakur in order to verify the position appointed the Registrar Judicial for spot inspection on the site.
The attention of the Court has been drawn to its earlier order whereby concerned police was directed to go on spot and ensure that no illegal construction shall take place.
The petitioner counsel Ajaz Chesti vehemently denied the contention of the GDA counsel that no constructions is going on after court orders passed on November last year. Advocate Chesti submitted before the court that the court is misinformed on the issue while as the fact of the matter is the constructions are going on in the resort which is in league and connivance with the GDA.
Court after these submissions directed the Registrar Judicial (RJ) of the court to visit on spot and kept it open for her to take photography on spot alongwith site plans. Concerned police, Revenue and Wildlife authorities have been directed to assist the RJ in spot inspection.
Meantime, court has sought the details of all permissions granted by the Building Operations Controlling Authority of GDA in order to find out the legal and illegal constructions.
Court after treating the news item reported on 24.10.2019 under the caption ‘Illegal Construction in Gulmarg, Administration hand in glove’ as application had directed the SHO Gulmarg to ensure that no construction is affected on these properties.
Court has expressed its serious concern on lackadaisical approach on part of the authorities for not settling the issue of leases and placing the details of leases before the court as directed and the said approach of authorities speaks volumes as such an important issue has been shelved by the authorities. Court called the Secretaries of Revenue and Tourism before the court for their failure on the said issue.
Taking note on retention and withholding of public property beyond time limit, DB said the authorities are not serious to save the public property as do not come with stand about recovery of property in Gulmarg where leases or licenses have already expired.
It is mentioned that various structures in and around the resort including Hotels and other buildings whose leases have expired and the property is since in their occupation.
Court had observed that on one hand the lease of various properties has expired and on the other hand the property is seem to be in position of lease holders and such kind of delay on part of authorities cannot be tolerated.
The SRO 580 is in place wherein the maximum period for which a lease could be granted was 40 years and no extension beyond this period is permissible and the earlier report of GDA revealed that most of the leases granted to people have expired.
On the expiry of lease/license of the erstwhile lessee/licensee, the lessees are now in status of an unauthorized occupants within the meaning of Section 2(g) of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1988.
Court has already recorded that it is trite that public property is held in public trust by the respondents and has to be dealt with in a non-arbitrary and transparent manner ensuring that public interest is best served.
On the constructions of High Altitude Warfare School build by the Army, the court has been informed by the Army counsel that the court had permitted the Army to proceed with the construction of school with some condition but the CEO has put on halt the constructions some time ago. GDA has been directed to come up with response to the plea of Army.