The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has pulled up Jammu senior superintendent of police (SSP) Atul Goel for non-cooperation in eviction of encroachments on nearly 170 kanals of land in the city's prime Gole Gujaral area.
The division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar has also asked the police to help the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) in the right earnest so that effective steps could be taken to remove encroachments on 169 kanal and 7 marla land, valued at around Rs 150 crore.
During hearing here yesterday, the court also expressed displeasure over the statement of the SSP, who responding to the request of JDA vice chairperson Sushma Chouhan had said that the police force is not available for removing encroachments till the election process is over in the state.
Pulling up the SSP, the court said that senior officers should not make such statements because it encourage land mafias at various levels.
The high court also called for a status report on the matter from the Deputy Commissioner and also directed the Chief Secretary to take notice of such violations and direct the concerned authorities like the Jammu SSP to maintain propriety of his office.
The court questioned as to who had authorised the SSP to make such a statement on behalf of the police in the whole state.
"At a meeting of the Jammu Deputy Commissioner, the SSP and the JDA vice chairperson at the DC office, the SSP stated that police force is not available till election process is over in the state," advocate Ahmad, who is pleading for a PIL over encroachments, said quoting the status report of JDA.
"This is just at the behest of those powerful persons, who want this encroachment to continue," Ahmad told the court.
JDA vice chairperson Chouhan had earlier served a notice to the encroachers in which they were given final opportunity to remove the encroachments on their own by April 17 and take away their belongings, failing which the JDA will proceed to remove the encroachments in the light of the high court order.
The notice was served to 76 land grabbers under section 7 of the Public Premises Eviction of Unauthorised Occupant Act.
On March 20, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had pulled up JDA for massive land grabbing and directed the authorities to clear the encroachments.
Taking a serious note of the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on land grabbing, the court had said, "JDA has admitted that 169 kanal and 7 marla of land is under unauthorised occupation of locals and nomad Gujjars."
"The JDA authorities shall have to explain their conduct and position for not initiating steps for evicting encroachers from the JDA land. The failure of the JDA authorities to perform their duties would require initiation of disciplinary action as warranted in the facts of this case," the court had said.