HC seeks Govt response on property conversion

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, Sept 19: Taking serious note of turning the residential properties into commercial illegally, High Court has recorded that such illegalities would have severe and irreversible impact on the environment and cause lot of inconvenience to occupants of neighbouring properties.
Hearing a PIL with regard to converting a big chunk of land into commercial purposes by earth filling on it, the division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta directed the concerned authorities including Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation to file their reply to the plea raised in the petition.
The Court observed that this kind of illegal conversion of properties would not only cause inconvenience to the neighbouring properties but also pressure on civic amenities like water, electricity supplies, circulation areas, garbage disposal which cannot be countenanced and allowed.
Government counsel informed the court that they have not been furnished the copy of petition by the petitioner counsel. Court said the petition raises very important issue and asked the petitioner counsel to provide the copy of the same to the Government counsels in order to prepare and file reply by them.
“Counsel for the petitioner shall ensure that copies of the petition are furnished to counsel for the respondents positively within three days from today and the respondents shall file their replies to the writ petition within four weeks thereafter”, Court directed.
Counsel appearing for SMC informed the court that there is a previous writ petition pending on the similar issue which is scheduled to come up on September 23, 2020.
Court directed the Registry to list this instant writ petition along with the PIL of 2013 on September 23, 2020. In previous PIL which the court directed for listing had ordered sealing of all those complexes and malls across the J&K which were raised in contravention of building permission laws and the then coalition Government of NC-Congress after sealing order of all these structures passed by the court 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.
A large number of structures including complexes, Shopping Malls etc were raised across J&K in violation of building permission and Master Plan and court after considering the matter in September 2013 directed for sealing of all these structures.
The said legislation in order to protect these illegal malls and complexes says 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.
The 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.
There after the Government came up with a policy to regulate all illegal and unauthorized construction of buildings and structures in summer and winter capitals of the erstwhile State as well as Katra.
In this regard a survey conducted by the teams constituted by then Government in 2014 reported 5500 violations in Srinagar, 4131 in Jammu and 58 in Katra respectively.
“Notwithstanding other provisions, this policy shall provide one time settlement to unauthorized constructions for the local Area of Srinagar, Jammu and Katra. No unauthorized construction having come up after December 31, 2016 shall be regularized,’ read the policy document.
“In case of un-authorized buildings/plots for which the owner does not submit the application to the competent authority within the prescribed period, the appropriate action/proceedings under Law shall be initiated after the expiry of the prescribed period, which may include but not limited to, sealing demolition, levying penalties etc., as warranted under law”, provides the policy.