Fraudulently Acquired 29 Kanal Pahalgam Land | HC seeks report on nullification of manipulated gift deeds

High court of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar branch. [Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir]
High court of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar branch. [Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir]

The High Court (HC) Thursday directed the Revenue department and the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) to inform as to what action they had taken to get nullified the manipulated gift deeds regarding 29 kanal of land in Pahlgam.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul sought to know about the action on nullification of the deeds after it observed that in the 1991 the then Chief Town Planner, Kashmir, Mir Naseem Ahmad had dishonestly and fraudulently acquired about 29 kanal and 13 marlas of land in planning Sub-Zone A-14 through oral gifts shown to have been made by donors to his close and trusted employees and his associates.

The court directed the Revenue department and PDA to initiate proceedings in accordance with the law for the cancellation of the manipulated gift deeds as also the change of land use as may be advised to them in law and report about action taken if not done so far.

A status report filed by Senior Superintendent of Police, Anti-Corruption Bureau, South, Kashmir through Senior Additional Advocate General B A Dar revealed that that the then Chief Town Planner fraudulently acquired about 29 kanal and 13 marlas of land in planning Sub-Zone A-14.

Consequently, the report said, the charge sheet was submitted and the trial court vide order dated 6 February 2016 framed the charge against the accused persons.

However, on the petitions filed by two of them, the HC had quashed the entire proceedings of the case vide judgment and order dated 16 October 2018 and now the matter is sub judice before the Supreme Court.

The court observed that in view of the status report one thing was clear that the matter was investigated and the trial initiated on its basis stood quashed by the High Court.

Nothing further, the court said, it was required to be considered and monitored in relation to the FIR.

Regarding reframing of the Master Plan, the court said the Master Plan at the relevant time was of the year 2005-2025 and now the Master Plan for 2015-2032 had been enforced.

"The prayer for reframing of the Master Plan no longer survives," the court said.

"In the overall facts and circumstances of the case, the only thing which is required to be considered by the court is the action which has been taken or is to be taken for the cancellation of the oral gift and the change of land use as has come out in the investigation," it said.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the preservation of Pahalgam.

In February this year, it had observed that only the prayer with regard to the completion of the investigation of the FIR registered in 2008 regarding fraudulent acquisition of land survived in the plea.

While a committee of some officers was constituted in 2004 to prepare the Master Plan for Pahalgam, the plan was allegedly prepared to pave way for some influential persons to acquire land and go for illegal constructions.

It is alleged that while the plan was being formulated, some top bureaucrats acquired land in ecologically fragile areas with the help of land mafia and in their personal interest managed to designate these areas as permissible in the land use map of the Master Plan.

While the land across Sheesh Nag Nallah and Manipal Nallah in Chanhaji, a virgin area falling in the forest covered foothills was allegedly declared permissible without getting comprehensive feedback, the residential areas of Rinzipal and Bradihaji on the other side of Nallah had been declared non-permissible zone.

The committee allegedly resorted to misrepresentation, manipulations and distortions whereby it proposed that sub zone A-14, an inaccessible area on the other side of Sheesh Nag Nallah, be de-notified to permit construction of hutments and other facilities while ignoring the sub-zone A-13 having sizeable population and being contiguous with the already de-notified area.

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