J-K High Court has pulled up Jammu Development Authority for failing to check encroachments on prime land and directed it remove unauthorised occupation from the plots worth about Rs 150 crore in the city.
A division bench comprising justices Virender Singh and Muzaffar Hussain Attar directed all the officials presently working in the JDA to disclose their movable and immovable properties within one week, saying "strong eyebrows of suspicions are raised about the integrity" of the authorities and officials.
The court directed Vice-Chairperson of JDA Sushma Chouhan to immediately initiate steps for evicting encroachers from the 169 kanal land belonging to the Authority in village Gole and said "it is appalling that the authorities of the JDA have failed to take possession of the huge chunk of the land from the unauthorised occupants".
The officials, including Chief Khilafwarzi Officers posted in JDA for the last 10 years, who have been asked to declare assets have also been restrained from creating any third party interest in their properties.
"JDA has admitted that 169 kanal and 7 marla of land is under unauthorised occupation of locals and nomad Gujjars. This doesn't not only make functioning of the authorities of the JDA doubtful but strong eye-brows of suspicions are also raised about the integrity of the authorities, officers, who have manned the important positions, posts in the JDA from time to time" the court said yesterday.
Locals had staged protests over the land grabbing in Gole Gojral area and had threatened to go for major agitation if the government failed to remove the encroachments forthwith.
After perusal of the status report filed by the JDA and hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmad appearing for the petitioner, the court observed, "We are prima facie of the view that the failure of the JDA authorities in retrieving the huge chunk of the land from the possession of the unauthorised occupants is a matter of serious concern."
"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 high court said.
It said "Vice-Chairman JDA, who has complete statutory back up and paraphernalia available, shall immediately initiate steps for evicting the encroachers from the JDA land".
Pointing towards the status report, which indicates that four Chief Khilafwarzi Officers have been posted in the JDA for the last 10 years, the court directed that all the authorities and officials whose names have been reflected in the report, shall, within one week, file affidavits before the Registrar Judicial giving details about movable and immovable properties in their names and also in the names of their spouses and children.
"Likewise, information shall also be given about their bank accounts, shares, debentures and in the affidavit they shall also indicate that till further orders from the court, they will not create any third party interest in their immovable and movable properties," the court said.