J-K HC Expresses Displeasure over Admin’s Response to PIL On ‘Illegal Occupation’ of Ministerial Bungalows

The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday expressed displeasure at a report filed by the administration, saying it did not address the issue highlighted in a PIL regarding unauthorised occupation of ministerial bungalows by former ministers, legislators and bureaucrats in the Union Territory.

The division bench comprising Chief Justice N Kotishwar Singh and Justice Puneet Gupta directed the J and K administration to apprise the court as to the nature of the accommodation provided to these people as well as the reasons for doing so on the next date of hearing on July 19.

“We have perused the report submitted in sealed cover. The report, however, does not address the issue which was raised before this court, as to whether a person who is entitled to security cover would also be entitled to government accommodation as these are the two separate issues,” the court said in its order.

A PIL was filed in the court in 2020 highlighting the alleged unauthorised occupation of ministerial bungalows by former ministers and MLAs at Jammu and Srinagar. The plea sought directions to the Estates Department to ensure the eviction of the illegal occupants.

Advocates Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed, Supriya Chouhan and Mohammed Zulkarnain Choudhary appearing for the petitioner drew the attention of the bench towards the decision of the court on December 26, 2022, whereby it was clearly held that the security assessment and entitlement to government accommodation are two different issues and cannot be intermingled.

Advocate Ahmed vehemently argued that as per the earlier decision of the court, the inference which can be drawn is that while because of certain threat perception security cover can be granted to a person, it is not necessary that the person has to be provided the government accommodation also, which was also the stand of the administration in the aforesaid case.

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He further submitted that till date the unauthorised occupants have not vacated the ministerial bungalows, nor the Estates Department initiated eviction proceedings against them.

Ahmed alleged that the Estates Department has been selective in carrying out evictions of the politicians as 107 political persons were evicted from government accommodations at Jammu, while former ministers and legislators belonging to a particular political party having access to the corridors of power were not picked up for the eviction drive.

After considering the submissions, the court observed that, “We, therefore, would like to know from the administration as to the nature of the accommodation provided to these persons (former ministers and MLAs) and the reasons for doing so by the next date”.

The court fixed July 19 as the next date of hearing.

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