PIL seeks eviction of ex-ministers, MLAs | HC seeks latest status of unauthorised occupants of ministerial bungalows

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Jammu, Feb 7: The Division Bench of High Court of J&K and Ladakh (Jammu) comprising Chief Justice (acting) Tashi Rabstan and Justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi Tuesday granted two weeks’ time to Senior Additional Advocate General (AAG) Monika Kohli appearing for the government of J&K, Estates Department for filing the latest status regarding the unauthorized occupants of government accommodations (ministerial bungalows).

The High Court sought the status regarding those unauthorised occupants who were issued eviction notices in the year 2018 and despite lapse of more than four years, the eviction had not been effected.

These court directions were passed in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL No. 17/2020) highlighting unauthorised occupation of ministerial bungalows by the ex-ministers and former MLAs at Jammu and Srinagar. The PIL sought directions to the Estates Department to ensure the eviction of the illegal occupants.

When this PIL came up for hearing, advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with advocates Supriya Chouhan and Mohd Zulkarnain Choudhary appearing for the petitioner drew the attention of the Division Bench towards a latest RTI reply received from the Estates department wherein it was divulged that on December 21, 2018, the Deputy Director Estates, Jammu issued eviction notices to Kavinder Gupta, former Deputy Chief Minister; Bali Bhagat, former Health Minister; Sunil Kumar, former minister besides others whereby all of them were directed to surrender their ministerial bungalows by or before December 21, 2018. The notices mentioned that in default, the Estates Department would initiate eviction proceedings under rules including charging of penal rent as described under SOP notified vide Government order No.99-Est of 2018 dated October 15, 2018.

Advocate S S Ahmed further submitted that till date, the unauthorised occupants did not vacate the ministerial bungalows nor the Estates Department initiated eviction proceedings against the unauthorised occupants.

He further highlighted that the Estates Department had been selective in carrying out evictions of the politicians as 107 political persons were evicted from government accommodations at Jammu. He further submitted that the ex-ministers and ex-legislators, belonging to a particular political party having access to the corridors of power, were not picked up for eviction drive.

After considering his submissions, the Division Bench observed that the respondents (Estates department) issued eviction notices in the year 2018 against some of the unauthorised occupants of government accommodations, however, despite lapse of more than four years, the eviction had not been effected. The Division Bench accordingly directed Senior AAG Monika Kohli to file the latest status on this issue within a period of two weeks.

Looking into the importance of the matter, the Division Bench directed the Registry to re-notify the instant PIL on February 27, 2023.

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