SONAMARG: A Division Bench of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has allowed the Indian Army to conduct vital maintenance and repair works in existing structures within the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) and other transit camps situated in the pristine region of Sonamarg.
The DB comprising Chief Justice N Kotishwar Singh and Justice MA Chowdhary in an order highlighted the exceptional nature of the army’s role in safeguarding the nation and maintained that case is distinct from previous restraints imposed by the court
“Considering that carrying out the said maintenance/repair works are urgently required, and the fact that this pertains to security of the Nation which is of paramount importance, and thus cannot be equated with other commercial enterprises engaged in profit making activities, and the army/security forces can be treated to be a class by itself distinguishable from other commercial enterprises, we are of the view that an exception can be made to the restraint orders passed by this Court and the application should be allowed to carry out the maintenance/repairing works as mentioned in the report” it observed.
The directions were passed in response to an application by Tahir Shamsi DGSI, seeking permission from the Court in the backdrop of blanket ban on any construction activities in Sonamarg.
The Court had few years back undertaken this matter as a Public Interest Litigation, responding to reports of unauthorized constructions in the Sonamarg area.
Over time, the court’s orders have regulated constructions in the area, keeping in view the several associated environmental concerns. It was in the said pursuit that the court had issued a blanket ban on carrying out construction activities within the peripheries of this famous tourist destination. Acknowledging the constrained time window and the pivotal role of these installations in supporting the Army’s counter-insurgency operations and defense strategies, the bench observed,
“Under the circumstances, we hold that the bar placed by this Court should not come in the way of Building Operations and Controlling Authority to consider and give permission to the army authorities to undertake maintenance/repair work as sought by them,’ Court said and directed the Building Operations and Controlling Authority to grant permission to the army authorities for the execution of necessary maintenance and repair works—(KNO)