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Act of court ‘should prejudice none’: HC

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Sets aside order imposing costs on two Pahalgam residents in a case concerning migrant property

Srinagar: The High Court on Wednesday set aside its recent order that imposed a cost of Rs one lakh on two local residents for “preventing” authorities from retrieving a patch of land “belonging” to some migrants in Pahalgam, Anantnag.

The genesis of the controversy as per the single judge of the court lay in an application filed by the migrants Gautam Bali and Sumeet Bali. The duo claimed ownership over a stretch of land measuring seven kanals and three marlas in estate Mamal of Pahalgam.

A division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Mohan Lal hearing an appeal against the recent single bench order filed by Imtiyaz Ahamad Shah and his brother, observed that the act of the court should prejudice none.

The judges appreciated the appellant Shah’s view that they are not claiming any right on the proprietary land of the migrant Bali’s.

“Their only grievance is that the revenue authorities (including the District Magistrate Anantnag)  by use of the provisions of the J&K Migrant Immovable Property Preservation, Protection and Restraint on Distress Sales Act, recommended the process of dispossessing the appellants from their own land and taking it as migrant land,” they said.

The appellants’ interest according to the division bench is in protecting their rights with reference to holding of their property vested under law.  “They are not averse to identifying the land of the respondents but are only averse to retrieval of the land from their own land,” it said.

The bench further said “on proper examination of the impugned judgment, we have noticed that the Writ Court has not made any observation or recorded any finding on this aspect of the matter which may have an effect of prejudicing the rights of the contesting parties.”

“The act of the court,” the division bench said, “should prejudice none. Therefore, in order to ensure that justice is done to the parties, we are of the considered view that both the parties would be done the justice if the revenue authorities are asked to demarcate the land of the appellants and that of the migrant Bali’s with reference to their entitlement under law as that will ensure protection and preservation of the migrant property as well.”

The division bench also directed the District Magistrate Anantnag to undertake the exercise of demarcation of the land of the appellants and that of respondents migrants in presence of the parties under his personal supervision.

“The District Magistrate Anantnag, shall ensure that on demarcation, the possession of the land is handed over to the rightful owners as per their entitlement,” it directed and allowed the appeal to the extent of setting aside of the imposing of costs on the appellants.

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