Jammu: In a significant order, a Division Bench of High court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh ( Jammu Wing) comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Mohd Akram Chowdhary directed AAG Aseem Sawhney appearing for Govt of J&K to provide the details of Politicians / Ex-Legislators who are ordinarily the residents of Jammu Province and particular areas in and around Jammu District and own and possess accommodation in their names, have also been furnished govt. accommodation on so called security considerations , not only in Jammu but even in Srinagar.
When this much publicized PIL No. 17/2020 highlighting illegal occupation of Ministerial Bungalows/ A Type Kothies / flats/ quarters situated at Jammu / Srinagar came up for hearing, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Supriya Chouhan, Mohd Zulkarnain Choudhary and Majid Shah appearing for the petitioner submitted that since June, 2018 the Ex- Ministers/ Ex-Legislators/ Political workers are illegally staying in the Govt. accommodation both at Jammu and Srinagar and the Estates Department has miserably failed to evict these VVIPs illegal occupants owing to political pressure.
Advocate SS Ahmed vehemently argued that Jammu city is a peace Zone and even Ex- Ministers / Ex- Legislators belonging to Jammu province as well as areas in and around Jammu District who are having their own residential houses are even continuing in the Ministerial Bungalows / A Type Kothies and there seems to be no logic in allowing such Ex-ministers / Ex- legislators to remain in occupation of Govt. accommodation.
Advocate S.S Ahmed in the Open Court even named such Ex- ministers/ Ex-legislators who belong to Jammu and are having their houses in various localities of Jammu and further submitted that even such politicians have also been provided Govt accommodation at Srinagar also. The Division Bench headed by Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur while taking serious note of the submissions made by Advocate SS. Ahmed observed and directed that details of all such persons be furnished to the Court before the next date of hearing.
Advocate SS. Ahmed further submitted that any ministers / bureaucrat after demitting office is at par with the common citizen. Though by virtue of the office held , he may be entitled to security and other protocols , allotment of Govt Bungalow for life time and its continuation is not guided by the constitutional principles of equality. At this stage Advocate S.S Ahmed referred a supreme Court Judgment titled Lok Parhari through its General Secretary Versus the State of UP and others, wherein, the Supreme Court held that the Govt. Bungalows/ Official residences are public property and struck down section -4 (3) of the Uttar Pradesh ministers ( salaries , allowances and miscellaneous provisions ) act , 1981 which had made a provision that a Govt residence shall be allotted to the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on his / her request for life time on payment of such rent as may be determined from time to time by the Estates Department of the state .
While advancing his arguments on the strength of the Supreme Court Judgment, Advocate S.S Ahmed strenuously argued that the instant PIL be allowed and the illegal occupants who are politicians be evicted from the Ministerial Bungalows / A Type Kothies / Flats / Govt. quarters situated at Jammu / Srinagar.
AAG Aseem Sawhney appearing for Govt of J&K submitted that around 72 persons other then Govt Officers are occupying Govt accommodation and he further stated that UT Govt. is duty bound to protect those persons who are protected persons and in view of threat perception reports such persons can not be exposed to the anti national elements. He further submitted that looking into the seriousness of the matter the UT Govt. be allowed to file the status report in a sealed cover as the information disclosed can prove detrimental to the life and security of the protected persons. He further submitted that he will come out with the details regarding the persons who have been allowed Govt accommodation both at Jammu/ Srinagar or any other area of UT of J&K. AAG Aseem Sawhney also read in the Open Court the status report filed by him based upon the inputs of security review committee. He further submitted that owing to security consideration the politicians are staying in safe/ secure Govt accommodations.
After considering the submission of the both sides, the Division Bench headed by Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur directed the AAG Aseem Sawhney to provide the details of Politicians / Ex-Legislators who are ordinarily the residents of Jammu province and particular areas in and around Jammu District and own and possess accommodation in their own names, have also been furnished Govt accommodation on so called Security considerations , not only in Jammu but even in Srinagar . JNF