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HC asks former minister Rather to approach Estates deptt for retaining his govt accommodation

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Srinagar: Former minister and National Conference senior leader Abdul Rahim Rather, facing risk of losing his government accommodation, was on Monday directed by the J&K High Court to immediately make a representation before the government to plead his case.

The court also quashed a 2016 government notice whereof he along with other occupants had been asked to vacate the government accommodation or face action according to the law.

The government lawyer, however, argued against Rather saying his eviction is covered by a 2020 Judgment of the J&K High Court. The court in its order had directed the governmental authorities to ensure eviction of unauthorized and illegal occupants from government accommodation. It had directed recovery of rent from former ministers, legislators, retired officers, politicians and political persons occupying these accommodations.

The petitioner Rather claimed through his lawyer that his ancestral house at village Badipora of Budgam district was inhospitable and that he was enjoying Z-category security because of the threat to his life by militants.

He further said that the possession of his government accommodation was extended from time to time. In terms of a government order of 2018, he also used to deposit its rent with the government, he said.

Losing the accommodation will expose him to the attack by the subversive elements, his lawyer told the court.

He also questioned the validity of the vacation notice on the ground of being discriminatory in nature.  He said the respondent Estates Department has allowed the former legislators with less security threats to retain government accommodations.

He informed the court that “former legislators Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, Girdhari Lal Raina, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Mohammad Rafi Mir, Nazir Ahmad Laway, Fayaz Ahmad Mir, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Abdul Majeed Padder, Sajad Gani Lone, Basharat Bukhari, Javid Ahmad, Sofi Yousuf, Nizamuddin Bhat, Dr. Mehboob Beg, Abdul Razak Zaoora, and Mohammad Shafi Bhat are still enjoying the government accommodation despite court orders.”

Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Mohammad Akram Chowdhary, after hearing the arguments said “this court is not equipped with necessary mechanism to assess ‘threat perception’ of petitioners or to conclude whether petitioners or anyone of them deserves to be allowed to retain present accommodation or provide alternate government/hired accommodation”.

It directed “the state government shall constitute a committee headed by Additional Director General of Police, Security, and comprising of District Magistrate, Srinagar/Jammu; Director Estates; Superintendent of Police, Security, Srinagar/Jammu; and any other member co-opted by Additional Director General of Police, Security, to make an objective assessment of threat perception of petitioners.”

It said the government should assess as to allow the petitioners to retain present government accommodation in their use or to provide them alternate government, or hired accommodation.

The committee shall allow petitioners to put forth their stand either in person or through their representative including written representations, it directed.

Disposing the Rather’s and other petitions by the mainstream politicians the bench declared “the notice impugned dated 06.04.2016 as quashed”.

The petitioner (Rather) shall make a detailed representation along with supported documents before the Director Estates within one week from today, it directed.

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