Srinagar, Feb 18: Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday said that it was unfortunate that some former ministers, legislators, retired officers, politicians, and political persons etc., have illegally and unauthorizedly managed to continue to stay in the residential accommodation provided to them by the government though they are no longer entitled to such facilities.
Disposing of a Public Interest Litigation filed by it suo-moto in October last year, a division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Vinod Chatterji Koul ordered that the directions passed by the Court from time to time in the matter of eviction of unauthorized and illegal occupants from Government accommodation and recovery of rent shall be strictly implemented by the authorities concerned “in the same spirit in which they were meant to be.”
“At the very outset, we wish to observe that it is unfortunate that some former Ministers/ Legislators/ Retired Officers/ Politicians/ Political persons, etc., have illegally/ unauthorizedly managed to continue to stay in the residential accommodation provided to them by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, though they are no longer entitled to such accommodation,” the court said.
“Many of such persons continue to occupy residential accommodation commensurate with the office(s) held by them earlier and which are beyond their present entitlement. The unauthorized occupants must realize that rights and duties go correlative to each other, inasmuch as the rights of one person entail the duties of another person, whereas, the duties of one person entail the rights of another person,” the court said, adding, “In this context, the unauthorized occupants must appreciate that their act of overstaying in the premise directly infringes the right of another. No law or direction can entirely control this act of disobedience, but for self-realization among the unauthorized occupants.”
Apart from it, the court said that the natural resources, public lands and the public goods, like Government bungalows, official residence are public property belong to the people of the country. “The ‘Doctrine of Equality’, which emerges from the concepts of justice and fairness must guide the State in the distribution/ allocation of the same,” the court said, adding, “Any former Minister/ Legislator/ Retired Officer/ Politician/ Political person, once he/ she demits the office, is on a par with the common citizen, though by virtue of the office held, he/ she may be entitled to security and other protocols as per assessment of the concerned filed agency. But allotment of Government bungalow, to be occupied during the lifetime of such persons, would not be guided by the constitutional principle of equality.”
The court also directed the Chief Secretary and the Secretary Estates Department to take all possible steps for ensuring eviction of the illegal and unauthorized occupants including Ministerial Bungalows/ Special Houses (Atype, B-type and C-type quarters), in tune with the mandate of law provided by the Supreme Court. “The Chief Secretary of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Secretary to Government of Jammu and Kashmir, Estates Department, shall ensure recovery of rent/ arrears of rent from the occupants of Government accommodation for the period for which they were in authorized/ unauthorized occupation of the said accommodation as Land Revenue.” gns