HC stays demolition of former Revenue Minister’s house

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Jan 19: Vacation Judge of State High Court Justice Janak Raj Kotwal has stayed the demolition of former Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla’s residential house till February 5, 2016 and directed the J&K Special Tribunal to decide Raman Bhalla’s appeal against demolition notice within two weeks.
When the writ petition filed by Raman Bhalla came up for hearing, Advocate Abhinav Sharma with Advocates A K Sawhney, K K Pangotra, S M Choudhary and Tarun Sharma submitted that the petitioner has been rendered remedy less as the J&K Special Tribunal has kept in abeyance the status quo order earlier passed on the plea of the caveat filed by Prof S K Bhalla and the Tribunal further directed the parties to seek clarification from the High Court which had passed a detailed order on December 3, 2015 in a writ petition filed by Prof S K Bhalla.
Advocate Abhinav Sharma also submitted that the matter has been fixed before the Tribunal on February 5 and there is no protection against the demolition as the status quo order earlier passed was kept in abeyance by the Tribunal on December 30, 2015.
On the other hand, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for Prof S K Bhalla submitted that the instant petition is not maintainable as the clarification, if any, has to be sought in the writ petition filed by Prof S K Bhalla wherein directions had been issued to the JMC to take action against Raman Bhalla with regard to alleged major violations.
He further submitted that appeal of Raman Bhalla against demolition is pending before J&K Special Tribunal and directions are required to be issued to the Tribunal to decide the same within a specified period. He further submitted that the former Revenue Minister is highly influential and in case time is not specified then the appeal will remain pending in the Tribunal for years to come.
Advocate Ahmed further submitted that JMC was in deep slumber and hand in glove with Raman Bhalla and for this reason did not issue any notice to him when he was raising the illegal construction. He further submitted that it is only on an RTI expose that the JMC divulged that no action has been initiated against the former Revenue Minister.
Advocate Sachin Gupta appearing for JMC submitted that the petitioner has indulged in major violations and his statutory appeal against demolition notice is pending before the J&K Special Tribunal which is only competent to adjudicate the matter against the notice issued under Section 7(3) Control of Building Operation Act.
After hearing the parties at length, Justice Janak Raj Kotwal, in the open court, stayed the demolition of former Revenue Minister’s residential house till February 5, 2016 with the direction to the J&K Special Tribunal to decide Raman Bhalla’s appeal against demolition notice within two weeks.
The Vacation Judge also directed the parties to appear before the J&K Special Tribunal on February 5, 2016 and clarified that the status quo order will remain valid till February 5.

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