HC dismisses Tourism dept’s review petition in 13-year-old case on rehabilitation of fire-affected shopkeepers at Gulmarg
Srinagar: The J&K High Court has dismissed a condonation and review application of the J&K Tourism Department in a 13-year-old case seeking rehabilitation of shopkeepers affected by a fire at Gulmarg.
Justices Atul Sreedharan and Rahul Bharti in their order said “in support of the said application, no documents were filed as to how the matter was pending before the petitioner in the review petition, to justify the delay of six years. The reasons given in the application do not impress us. The COD application is dismissed. As a consequence, the review petition bearing RP No. 88/2022 also stands dismissed.”
A contempt petition was filed by the petitioner shopkeepers titled Abdul Gaffar Ganai and others in 2016 for the enforcement of an order passed on 10.08.2015 in LPA No. 235/2013.
The petitioners had filed LPA being aggrieved by the order passed by the Single Judge in a writ petition filed in 2010. The writ petition was dismissed thereby denying the claim of the appellants for rehabilitation.
The order mentioned passed by the Coordinate Bench reflected that when the matter was listed before it in 2014 and it was informed that in 2011, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA), Gulmarg, addressed a letter to the Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Tourism Department, stating that the shopkeepers who are victims of fire would be rehabilitated in due course of time and as the matter is pending before this court, the same was delayed.
The Co-ordinate Bench further observed that the division bench had directed the CEO, GDA to file an affidavit reflecting their intention to rehabilitate the appellants whose names figured in a communication dated 06.05.2010. It was further observed that no such affidavit has been filed by the officer in spite of granting time.
Thereafter, the order recorded that the counsel for the State as well as CEO, GDA prayed that they be given sufficient time to rehabilitate these shopkeepers.
The operative part of the order read “in such circumstances, the appeal is disposed of with the direction to the Chief Executive Officer, Gulmarg Development Authority, Gulmarg to effect rehabilitation of shopkeepers affected by fire within a period of six months from the date of receipt of copy of this order”.
Thereafter, on account of inaction on part of the respondent officers, the petitioner shopkeepers were compelled to file the contempt petition in 2016 which is pending till date.
Thereafter, in order to nullify the effect of the order passed by the Coordinate Bench mentioned, the noncompliance of which led to the filing of the contempt, the State filed a review petition bearing RP No. 88/2022.
The bench of Justices Atul Sreedharan and Rahul Bharti observed that on the face of it, it appears that the review petition has been filed after an inordinate delay in order to obfuscate the proceedings in the contempt proceedings.
The respondent authorities were directed by the court to remain present in person before the court failing which it said that it would be at liberty to issue bailable warrants so as to secure their presence on a day thereafter.
The delay, according to the applicants “is not deliberate as the authorities took time which was required to decide as to whether the judgment/order be appealed against or not and in the process, obviously time got consumed”.
In support of the said application, no documents were filed as to how the matter was pending before the petitioner in the review petition, to justify the delay of six years which did not impress the judges who dismissed the petitions of the government.