JAMMU: Noting that various ‘big shots’ are beneficiaries of the now-scrapped Roshni scheme, the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition against the ongoing anti-encroachment drive in Jammu and Kashmir.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Akbar Rashid and 5 others from Dodasan in Rajouri, seeking a stay on a circular issued by the Jammu & Kashmir government on January 9 that directed removal of all encroachment on land owned by UT, including Roshni land and Kahcharai land by January 31.
The six petitioners, represented by Advocate Muzaffar Khan, were served notices under the drive and had moved the Supreme Court, which had ordered a status quo on demolition of their shops till January 31.
On Tuesday, when the matter came for hearing, the Court came down heavily on petitioners, asking them ‘not to take shelter of (other) tribals’.
“How can you say they are poor if they have shops in the land? At the most, we can give them some reasonable time to vacate,” said the court and asked if the petitioners have any document of title of shops conferred on them.
As the petitioners spoke of the title given under the Roshni Act, the bench said that the Act has been struck down.
“The Act is struck down. Once Act is repealed, where’s the question of saving clause?,” Justice BV Nagarathna asked.
The bench said that it will allow the petitioners to withdraw the plea following which the court dismissed the matter as withdrawn.
In its observations, the court said that the beneficiaries of Roshni scheme are big shots.
“If we protect your possession, it will affect entire J&K (anti-)encroachment (drive),” Bench added.
Another counsel in a connected matter made submissions but the court said it was not inclined to hear as it was not the main matter.
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It may be mentioned that the Jammu and Kashmir government on January 9 had directed removal of all encroachment on land owned by UT, including Roshni land and Kahcharai land by January 31.
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The matter was brought to the attention of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud on January 16, with the petitioners filing an urgent application asserting that government’s January 9 action is contrary to its responses filed in the Supreme Court and the J&K High Court. When informed that the matter was urgent and that Justice Sanjiv Khanna had recused from hearing it, the chief justice agreed to examine the plea and ordered for listing it for January 20.
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On January 20, the petitioners represented by Muzaffar Khan informed the bench comprising of Justice M R Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar that a lot of tribals are living on the land in Dodasan, while seeking a general stay on January 9 circular of J&K government.
The bench had asked Jammu and Kashmir government to not evict these 6 petitioners from Rajouri district till January 31, while refusing to grant a general stay on the ongoing land eviction drive of the union territory administration.
SC orders status quo for Rajouri petitioners till Jan 31, refuses stay on ongoing eviction drive
“We are not passing any order. You instruct them (UT administration) orally to not demolish any houses. But we will not grant a general stay at all so that others do not get benefit,” Justice Shah had instructed the UT counsel on January 20.