Jammu: In a major relief to senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh, the Jammu and Kashmir Special Tribunal kept in abeyance an order issued by the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) for demolition of his house on the outskirts of the city within five days.
The tribunal, headed by judicial member Rajesh Sekri, ordered that the impugned order dated November 8 should remain in abeyance, and the parties were directed to maintain status quo till December 7.
The JDA had served a notice to the BJP leader, asking him to demolish his palatial bungalow near the Army's ammunition sub-depot in Ban village of Nagrota.
Singh and his family had moved into the building on July 23 last year, even though the High Court had in May 2018 directed the authorities to ensure “strict implementation” of a 2015 notification barring the general public from carrying out any construction within 1000 yards of defence work.
The special tribunal granted relief to Singh on Friday after his wife Mamta Singh moved an application through her lawyers and submitted that she was the owner in possession of the residential plot measuring four kanal, which was purchased on 20 May 2014 and the area where the land was situated was outside the jurisdiction of any development authority.
The counsel said that the appellant raised the construction of the house and the structure was completed in all respects at the beginning of the year 2017.
“Some internal finishing work was subsequently completed and the appellant along with his family have since been living in the house peacefully. During the entire period of construction and thereafter, there was no complaint by any development authority regarding the construction of the house and rightly so as the same had already been constructed before the coming into force of Jammu Master Plan, 2032 notified on March 3, 2017, whereby as many as 103 villagers (including Ban) were included and the jurisdiction of JDA,” he said, challenging the demolition notice.
In its order of demolition, the JDA had said that the building was constructed without attaining valid permission from the competent authority.
“You are hereby directed to remove the illegal construction on your level within five days from the date of issuance of the order. If you fail to remove the illegal construction within the stipulated period, the same shall be demolished by the enforcement wing of JDA, and the cost of removal shall be recovered from you as arrears of land revenue,” the JDA said.
The High Court had on 7 May 2018 asked all parties concerned to maintain the status quo until final disposition of an Army plea which had claimed that the building violated laid down norms.
Raising security and safety concerns given the building’s proximity to an ammunition depot, the Centre had filed two petitions before the High Court.
Singh had earlier claimed it was a political conspiracy against him.
The piece of 2000 square metre land was bought in 2000 by Himgiri Infrastructure Development Private Limited, the shareholders of which included former deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta and BJP MP Jugal Kishore and Singh.
However, Gupta had claimed that he resigned from the company.
The construction work on the plot had started in 2017 prompting the Army to send a communication to Nirmal Singh, who was then deputy chief minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government, asking him to stop the activity as it violated the Works of Defence Act (WoDA), 1903 which bars any construction activity up to 1000 yards (914 metres approximately).