HC seeks soft copies of orders passed by Tribunal's presiding officer

J&K High Court has directed the Tribunal to send within two weeks soft copies of all orders passed by its presiding officer, Abdul Majid Bhat, to the Registrar Vigilance of the High Court since he took over the charge.

The court also sought names of Khilafwarzi officers who remained posted in the Gogjibagh area during the time construction of a hotel allegedly in violation of the permission which was purportedly for guest house.

A division bench of Justices Rajesh Bindal and Sanjay Dhar also sought a report regarding violations made in the construction as compared to the sanctioned plan irrespective of compounding allowed by the special Tribunal.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation against construction of an alleged hotel coming up in Gogjibagh area here, the court ordered the Tribunal to send at the first instance orders passed under Control of the J&K Building Operations Act.

“The manner in which the Presiding Officer-Abdul Majid Bhat of the Tribunal is passing orders does not inspire confidence,” the court said, adding many orders  passed by the same Officer were challenged before Jammu bench of  the Court as well.

Pointing out that compounding has been allowed of major violations by ignoring the provisions of Rules and Regulations, the court said: “In the instant case even principles of natural of justice were not followed as neither the counsel for SMC was heard nor the applicants were apprised of the date of hearing.”

While the ordered that it should be apprised of the Khilafwarzi officers who remained posted in the area during the period the construction was raised, it sought a report regarding violations made in the construction as compared to the sanctioned plan irrespective of compounding allowed by the Tribunal.

The court also said it should be informed whether the SMC was contemplating to challenge the Order dated July 20 passed by the Tribunal.

The Court issued these directions while hearing the PIL filed by the residents of Gogji Bagh here through advocate Farhat Zia Soharwardy  against a construction being raised in the area.

The petitioners submitted that though permission was taken for a Guest House, the same was converted into a Hotel with no proper parking or other facilities available. “The same will certainly affect the privacy of the residents in the area,” they said.   They further submitted that against the notice issued for demolition of illegal construction, the concerned persons  approached the Special Tribunal and a status quo was maintained by it in the order passed on December 12, 2019.  The submitted that an interim order was passed by the court on January 20, this year and the construction is going on at full swing.

They submitted that while Tribunal decided the appeal filed by the two persons raising the construction on July 20 this year, they said only connecting the counsel for the appellant there through Audio Call. “Counsel for the Srinagar Municipal Corporation was not connected”

Even the petitioners were not informed of the date of hearing and not connected at the time of hearing though they had filed application for being impleaded as party to the appeal. The officials of the Corporation are conniving with the respondents (alleged violators) to enable them to violate the provisions of law and raise illegal construction. The Court issued notice returnable on December 12 on the PIL which was accepted by advocate M S Latief on behalf of the respondents. Advocate Latief raised issue regarding maintainability of the petition as Public Interest Litigation.

In the meantime, the court restrained the two persons from carrying out any further construction in the premises in dispute. The Court asked the SMC to depute a team of responsible officers to take still photographs and also video of present status of construction in the building. “The exact measurement of the construction and the status thereof in the building shall also be noted”