Govt duty bound to preserve, protect evacuee properties in J&K: HC

 J&K High Court, Srinagar
J&K High Court, SrinagarMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has held that the Custodian Department is duty bound to preserve, protect, and utilise better evacuee properties and cannot act “arbitrarily” regarding the properties in Jammu and Kashmir.

“(Custodian) department is a statutory authority created under and in terms of (J&K State Evacuees’ (Administration of Property) Act 2006 (1949 AD) and is, therefore, duty bound to preserve, protect and better utilise evacuee properties. It cannot act arbitrarily and deal with properties of evacuee as being owner thereof with rights of alienation,” a bench of Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul said.

Underscoring that the evacuee property right from coming into being of the act is under the custody of the department, the court said: “(It) is a government department as provided under and in terms of provisions of Article 12 of the Constitution and as a result of which, any property being maintained and controlled by it since the year 1949 is also a government property and is to be taken care of strictly on the same lines on which other government properties are being taken care of and handled.”

The court dismissed a plea, which was seeking its intervention with regard to a matter related to transfer of land here on lease.

The court said that the act makes it clear that all evacuee properties situated in Jammu and Kashmir should be deemed to have vested in the custodian.

The court referred to Section 7 of the act and said: “If any person in possession of any evacuee property refuses or fails on demand to surrender possession to the custodian or to any person duly authorised by him in this behalf, the custodian can use such force as is necessary for taking possession of such property and can after giving reasonable warning remove or break open any lock, bolt or any door or do any other act necessary for the purpose.”

It said that Section 8 says the custodian could take such measures which he considers necessary or expedient for administering, imposing, preserving and managing any evacuee property and generally for enabling him satisfactorily to discharge any of duties imposed on him by or under the act and could do all acts.

The court pointed out that Section 10 of the act and Rule 14 of J&K State Evacuees (Administration of Property) Rules, Samvat 2008 when read conjointly provide prohibition for transfer of evacuee property.

“Evacuee Department is, thus, required to protect property of evacuees and evict unauthorized occupants,” it said.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir