Srinagar, Nov 9: The High Court heard arguments of the government and other parties on legal validity of the Master Plan for fourth day running Thursday and asked the authorities to clear their stand on the plan.
Hearing arguments of the state counsels, respondents and amicus curie of the court for four hours, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice BA Khan and Justice Bashir A Kirmani directed the government to file affidavit along with relevant documents disclosing its stand on the issue within 15 days.
Senior officials including vice-chairman SDA, Naseem Mir, who is also holding charge of vice-chairperson of LAWDA, Commissioner Secretary Law Akhtar Kochak, former vice-chairperson SDA Naseema Lanker and all other senior officials from various departments were present in person during the hearing.
Senior lawyers describe the proceedings of the case as important and say if the court takes decision directing the demolition of the structures, the government or any other body will have no other option but to comply with the orders of the court. "Taking the way the Apex Court handled the sealing of illegal shopkeepers in Delhi in consideration, it clearly shows the Division Bench orders will not get stay from the Apex Court," they said.
Earlier, the court heard Advocate General of the State Altaf Hussain Naik and the Court counsel in the case Zaffar Ahmad Shah. Naik talked about the cabinet decision of September 24, 1975. He said on that date the cabinet approved part of the Master Plan and in June 1976 it approved its another part. Thus, he said, the Master Plan was in vogue in the area, though there was no zonal plan. He said on that day the cabinet also approved Lake Front Area, which falls under schedule B. But the cabinet order says 120 ft from parapet of the lake while the Master Plan puts the distance at 130 ft.
The court asked the government to be clear whether it considers Master Plan as statutory regulation and if so what is its opinion about those persons who have raised constructions in breach of the Master Plan.
Later, Zaffar Ahmad Shah informed the court that the Master plan has to be approved by the government and it has to be made operational by issuing specific orders in this regard. He said "let us presume on September 24, 1975 the government approved the decision and puts its date of operation to November 1976 with retrospective effect." He then argued when the draft was produced before the cabinet it expresses its views on 120 ft from the parapet of the lake. "So, can we presume that the cabinet didn't give consent to the 130 ft from the centre of the Road, which is in the Master Plan." He argued that the Master Plan has remained operational and its legal efficacy has remained.
Senior counsel, Nazir Ahmad Ronga made a submission before the court that to save water bodies from erosion and encroachment, recommendation should go from the court to the state to insert a provision in Public Safety Act to detain encroachers of water bodies and those who facilitate it. He described it as a preventive measure to save the water bodies.