HC asks govt to return Rs 16.66 lakh plus interest to NC for failing to give it allotted land at Baramulla
Srinagar: The High Court today directed the J&K’s Finance Secretary to immediately release over Rs 16 lakh in favor of National Conference (NC) for failing to hand over an allotted piece of land at Baramulla currently occupied by the Army.
The party had filed a writ petition before the court seeking release of Rs 16.66 lakhs in lieu of a piece of state land at Baramulla for construction of an office. The government had failed to hand it over to the party “despite orders”.
Justice Sanjeev Kumar disposed of the petition with a direction to the respondents, in particular the Finance Secretary, to “immediately and forthwith release the amount of Rs 16, 66,668 in favor of the petitioner preferably within a period of six weeks from the date a copy of this order is served upon them”.
The petitioner political party has also been entitled to interest at the bank rate which is paid for the money deposited in the saving accounts.
In its petition, NC said that in 2010, with a view to construct its party office at Baramulla, it had approached the respondents for allotment of land on lease basis in Baramulla.
The allotment of requisite land was processed and a piece of State land measuring one kanal 13 marlas and three Sirsai at Village Ushkara, was identified. The competent authority accorded sanction for allotment of the land on lease basis for a period of 40 years in 2010 for an amount of Rs 16, 66,668.
The petitioner deposited the amount against a receipt acknowledged by the Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla in an official communication. However, possession of the land identified and allotted to NC could not be handed over to it. It was found that 19 marlas out of the land allotted to the petitioner was under the occupation of the Army.
The petitioner party approached the concerned authorities for refund of the deposited money in 2014. The case remained under process at various levels but the amount deposited was not released in favor of the petitioner till date, its counsel told the court.
This is how the petitioner claims that he was forced to knock on the doors of the court. The petitioner prayed for a direction to the respondents to release the aforesaid amount with admissible interest.
On being put to notice, the respondent authorities admitted that the amount was received by them but the “the Army officers who were present on spot, did not allow handing over of the possession of land to NC. The officers demanded that the deficiency of land measuring 19 marlas be released in favor of the Army”, a report by the concerned Tehsildar said.
The official compliance report also informed that the amount on its deposition was transferred to the Finance Secretary’s authorized account with the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Civil Secretariat, Srinagar in 2016.
Justice Kumar after hearing the parties opined “in view of the failure of the respondents to deliver the possession of the entire land out of said land, there was breach of contract on the part of the respondents”.
He said the allotted land is still in possession of the respondents and they are well within their right to terminate the lease, if any, executed between the petitioner and the respondents.
They, however, cannot refuse to release the amount which is duly deposited with them by the petitioner NC, said the judge.