PIL on unauthorised retention of government bungalows in J&K: Petitioner files list of 48 politicians before HC
A recent PIL in Jammu and Kashmir seeks eviction of ex-legislators from ministerial bungalows. The government has asked for time to obtain details from the 48 politicians.
Acting upon a recent Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh high court (HC) direction on a public interest litigation (PIL) regarding retention of ministerial bungalows by 48 politicians, the petitioner’s counsel furnished the list of politicians before a division bench on Monday.
However, senior additional advocate general (AAG) SS Nanda, on behalf of the Jammu and Kashmir administration filed a status report informing the bench that deputy director estates department has written letters to all the 48 politicians to provide details as to whether they possess any alternate residential accommodation at Jammu or Srinagar.
On Monday, the PIL was listed before a division bench comprising chief justice N Kotiswar Singh and justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi (through virtual mode), but because of the hectic schedule, the same could not be taken up for hearing.
It may be stated here that the 48 politicians, according to the petitioner’s counsel, continue to occupy ministerial bungalows and government accommodation despite having their personal houses.
The much-publicised PIL, “Prof SK Bhalla versus Union Territory of J&K and others”, seeks eviction of ex-legislators from ministerial bungalows in Jammu and Srinagar cities.
On September 13 the division bench had directed petitioner’s counsel advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed and senior AAG Nanda to furnish a list of 48 politicians, who possess houses in Jammu or in Kashmir within the meaning of regulation 5 of Jammu and Kashmir estates department (allotment of government accommodation) regulations, 2004.
The petitioner’s counsel advocate, Ahmed filed the complete details of the residential houses owned and possessed by the 48 politicians, prominent among whom were former CMs Ghulam Nabi Azad, Muzaffar Hussain Baig, former JMC mayor Chander Mohan Gupta, state BJP president Ravinder Raina and a host of others.
Senior AAG SS Nanda in the government’s status report further submitted that for obtaining the details from the 48 occupants, the estates department may need reasonable time.
During the last hearing, advocate Ahmed had vociferously highlighted before the division bench that the estates department has been selective in getting the government accommodation vacated from ex-legislators as for no valid reasons the department allotted government accommodation to 48 politicians by using 5 percent discretionary quota as in terms of regulation 4 of the Jammu and Kashmir Estates Department (Allotment of Government Accommodation) Regulations, 2004.
He had also referred to regulation 5, which debars government accommodation to the persons, who own or possess a house in the city concerned, whether in proprietorship or lease or otherwise, whether by themselves or through their spouses, sons, unmarried daughters or parents.
Ahmed had informed the division bench that most of the 48 politicians have their palatial bungalows in Jammu and Srinagar cities and were not eligible for allotment of government accommodation under discretionary quota.
The next date of hearing shall be notified by the registry in due course of time.