In a setback to 28 “terror-struck” retired Kashmiri bureaucrats in Delhi, mostly pandits, the Delhi high court has stayed its earlier order that allowed them to retain their government houses till the Centre restored normalcy in the strife-torn state of Jammu & Kashmir.
A legal battle between them and the Centre has been on for seven years now. The Centre had filed an appeal against the stay order last week. A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had stayed the order of a single bench dated November 30, 2010, that quashed the 2004 eviction orders issued by the Centre. The bureaucrats now have to explain why they should not be evicted by September 19. Jatan Singh, the Centre’s lawyer, said: “Appeal was filed as the single judge had come to a conclusion that the right to shelter has been recognised as an essential concomitant of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. But that can’t be applicable to government accommodation. Accom
modating retired officials is a problem as there is shortage even for serving officials.”
Three of these Kashmiri pandits had been IB officials, airlifted with families from Srinagar to Delhi a decade ago. One was a senior staff member with All India Radio who used to run a pro-India programme to combat Pakistan’s media propaganda. BL Wali, the bureaucrats’ lawyer, said: “These officials were working in extremely dangerous situations. The Centre had an obligation to ensure their protection till it ensures normalcy in J&K.”