Rashid Paul

Evict illegal, unauthorized occupants from govt accommodations: HC directs govt

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court Thursday directed the Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir and the Secretary Estates Department to take all possible steps for ensuring eviction of the illegal, unauthorized occupants from the government accommodations.

It is worth mentioning that 74 former ministers, legislators, retired officers, politicians and political persons are illegally occupying the ministerial bungalows, special houses, A-type, B-type and C-type quarters in Srinagar and Jammu beyond the period of their allotment.

A division bench while hearing a petition on the matter today directed the Chief Secretary of the government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Secretary Estates Department “shall take all possible steps for ensuring eviction of the illegal/unauthorized occupants (former ministers/legislators/retired officers/politicians/political persons) from government accommodation….”

The bench also directed the Chief Secretary of and the Secretary, Estates Department “shall ensure recovery of rent, arrears of rent from the occupants of government accommodation for the period for which they were in authorized/unauthorized occupation of the said accommodation as Land Revenue”.

Disposing off the petition the bench observed that although there is no requirement of issuing any further directions, than the ones already passed “we feel that no useful purpose can be achieved by keeping this petition pending before this court and that the same can be disposed of in view of the directions so passed.”

“The directions passed by this court from time to time in the matter of eviction of unauthorized/illegal occupants from government accommodation and recovery of rent thereof, earlier in point of time, shall be strictly implemented by the authorities concerned of the Government of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in the same spirit in which they were meant to be,” the court said.

The Estates Department according to official reports has recovered rent of Rs 47,65,906 from the illegal occupants including the former ministers, legislators, retired officers, politicians and political persons from February 2020 till date.

The matter of eviction was earlier taken up with Home Department for security assessment of these illegal occupants vide communication bearing No. Est./Lit/S/17/2016 dated 22nd of September, 2020.

The judges observed “it is unfortunate that some former ministers/ legislators/retired officers/politicians/political persons, etc., have illegally/unauthorizedly managed to continue to stay in the residential accommodation provided to them by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir though they are no longer entitled to such accommodation.”

The held “many of such persons continue to occupy residential accommodation commensurate with the office(s) held by them earlier and which are beyond their present entitlement.”

They said the “unauthorized occupants must realize that rights and duties go correlative to each other, inasmuch as the rights of one person entail the duties of another person, whereas, the duties of one person entail the rights of another person.”

They further observed “in this context, the unauthorized occupants must appreciate that their act of overstaying in the premise directly infringes the right of another. No law or direction can entirely control this act of disobedience, but for self-realization among the unauthorized occupants.”

The natural resources, public lands and the public goods, like government bungalows/ official residence are public property that belong to the people of the country, they said.

Referring to the doctrine of equality, they said “justice and fairness must guide the state in the distribution/allocation of the same. Any former minister/legislator/retired officer/politician/political person, once he/ she demits the office, is on a par with the common citizen, though by virtue of the office held, he/she may be entitled to security and other protocols as per assessment of the concerned filed agency. But allotment of government bungalow, to be occupied during the lifetime of such persons, would not be guided by the constitutional principle of equality.”

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