No inquiry ordered against delinquent officers despite HC’s explicit directives

Blatant violations of building bye-laws in Jammu city

It’s not in our powers; H&UDD has to take initiative: JMC

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Oct 24: In utter disregard to the explicit directives of the High Court, the Government has failed to order inquiry against the present and former officers of the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) whose ‘criminal negligence’ had led to large scale violations of building bye-laws in and around winter capital city.
Astonishingly, the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) said that conducting enquiry is not in its powers and Housing and Urban Development Department (H&UDD) has to take the decision in this regard for which formal communication has been sent to the latter.
While deciding three different petitions filed by Building Operation Controlling Authority (BOCA) against the decision of J&K Special Tribunal whereby major violations in respect of three major buildings were compounded, the High Court on October 1, 2020 had passed strictures against all those officers whose ‘criminal silence’ had led to flouting of building bye-laws.
“The conduct of the officer(s) who had granted the permission knowing well that there were earlier violations made by the respondents needs to be inquired into by the competent authority”, Justice Rajesh Bindal had mentioned in the judgment, adding “Khilafwarzi Officer(s) of the areas concerned are also accountable as either they kept eyes shut when the constructions were being raised in violation of building bye-laws and sanctioned permissions or were hand in glove with the violators”.
“To put the record straight and also to fix responsibility of the persons, who are entrusted the duty to oversee the constructions being raised but keep their eyes closed, the competent authority shall get the matter inquired into and fix responsibility”, High Court had directed.
Moreover, the role of Structural Engineer, who is to oversee the construction, also needs to be examined, as to why he did not report the matter to the authorities that constructions were being raised beyond the sanctioned plans, Justice Bindal had further directed.
However, even after the lapse of 20 days no inquiry has been ordered against the delinquent officers as such they remained unpunished even after obtaining ‘pecuniary benefits’ from the violators and turning blind eye towards blatant violation of building bye-laws, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
Pointing towards the High Court directions for conducting inquiry against those who had granted permission knowing well that there were earlier violations made by the respondents, an officer of the Jammu Municipal Corporation, while wishing anonymity, said, “former Municipal Commissioners are involved as far as this particular aspect is concerned as Building Operation Control Authority (BOCA) is generally headed by Municipal Commissioner”, adding “the Municipal Corporation doesn’t have the powers to conduct inquiry against former Municipal Commissioners and inquiry can only be ordered by the Housing and Urban Development Department”.
“Similarly, the Corporation has decided to leave it to the discretion of the Housing and Urban Development Department, which has administrative control over the municipal body, to entrust the task of looking into the conduct of Khilafwarzi Officers to the committee which will conduct inquiry into the role of former Municipal Commissioners”, the officer further said.
In response to a question, the officer said, “the Municipal Corporation has formally written to the Housing and Urban Development Department in this regard so that directions of the High Court are implemented as expeditiously as possible and delinquent officers are punished”.
However, the Housing and Urban Development Department has yet not issued any order regarding holding of inquiry and fixing responsibility for blatant violations of building bye-laws as directed by the High Court, sources informed.
“It is not for the first time that the High Court has passed strictures against the Jammu Municipal Corporation for facilitating the violations of building bye-laws instead of checking the same. But till date the Enforcement Wing has not been made accountable because of unknown reasons”, sources said, adding “unless accountability is ensured at the level of Enforcement Wing the violations of building bye-laws will continue unabated as on the ground the officials of this particular wing have to maintain hawk’s eye”.