Rashid Paul

HC seeks details about recovery of properties

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Gulmarg: Expiry of lease and license

Srinagar September 28: The High Court on Friday directed the government to file the details of recovery of the properties in the form of land for which lease and license has expired in the tourist resort of Gulmarg.

Following reports of illegal possession of large amounts of land by influential businessmen and political families at Gulmarg, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice D S Thakur directed the government to “file an affidavit with regard to the recovery of the possession of the property where leases/licenses have expired”.

During today’s proceedings the court was informed that under SRO 580, the maximum period for which a lease could be granted was 40 years.

“Obviously, no extension beyond this period is permissible”, the court observed.

The judges directed, “we shall also be informed in the affidavit about the manner in which such public property shall be dealt with and if the same is to be allowed to a private person, the procedure which would be followed for the same”.

A status report dated 07.09.2018 was also placed before the bench  which shows that most of the leases granted to persons have expired.

“It is trite that public property is held in public trust by the respondents and has to be dealt with in a non-arbitrary and transparent manner ensuring that public interest is best served”, directed the court.

“No person can be permitted to utilize the property with the intention of furthering of private interest of any person or authority. It has to be ensured that the maximum benefit results to the public as a result thereof”, it observed.

The court further said that on the expiry of lease/license, the erstwhile lessee/licensee acquires the status of an unauthorized occupant within the meaning of Section 2(g) of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1988.

The respondents shall inform this Court with regard to the amount which the lessee/licensee were required to pay towards the grant of leases and the status of the payments by the lessees, directed the judges.

On the growing pollution levels in the area the court directed the Pollution Control Authority to place before it the air and water quality reports in terms of the previous orders before the next date of hearing.

With regard to the much delayed master plan for the resort, the court was informed that Secretary of Tourism Department, the Chief Town Planner and Chief Executive Officer, Gulmarg Development Authority have visited all areas of Gulmarg for a physical inspection and had a meeting with regard to finalization of the Master Plan.

Time line for finalization of the Master Plan has been fixed, the court was informed.

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