DB directs videography of demarcation of 66,000 kanals JDA land
STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: A Division Bench (DB) of the State High Court Jammu Wing comprising Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice B.S Walia while expressing its displeasure over the divergent stances taken by Jammu Development Authority (JDA), Revenue and Police directed the videography of the ongoing demarcation exercise of more than 66,000 Kanals of JDA land in Jammu and Samba districts as per the directions of the DB vide its order dated December 10, 2014 read with order dated May 23, 2017 and also directed Revenue and JDA to file updated status report within three weeks.
The court directions came in the much publicised Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting land grabbing and encroachment of more than 20 lakh Kanals of State Land by politicians, bureaucrats and police officers in league with land mafia.
Deputy Advocate General Ehsan Mirza appearing for Revenue/ Police after being pulled up by the DB undertook to comply with the directions of Division Bench by providing the requisite manpower from the Revenue Department and also to provide protection on permanent basis to the officers of JDA as and when required and requisitioned by JDA to carry out the schedule of demarcation in Jammu and Samba Districts.
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Rahul Raina and Supriya Chouhan appearing for the PIL submitted that land mafia is causing obstruction in the ongoing demarcation drive and there is every apprehension of law and order problem. He invited court’s attention towards order dated December 10, 2014 passed by a Division Bench of the State High Court then headed by Chief Justice M.M Kumar (Since retired) wherein the Division Bench had directed for videography of aforesaid demarcation exercise. While submitting that the demarcation carried out so far has not been videographed, he sought videography of the demarcation exercise for identification of the land mafia and ascertaining the role of delinquent officers/ officials associated with the demarcation process.
Advocate Adarsh Sharma appearing for JDA produced the fresh status report in the open court wherein it was divulged that the JDA took up the matter with the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of Jammu and Samba and also communicated the details of the Khasra Nos wherein the Revenue record was awaited despite identification/demarcation of JDA Land. The status report further said that Director Land Management, JDA vide letter Nos. JDA/DLM/HQA/487-95 and JDA/DLM/HQA/496-504 dated August 23, 2017, even intimated the aforesaid DCs respectively about the poor progress of demarcation of JDA Land. The status report further stated that the JDA issued the demarcation schedule and requested for the requirement of Revenue staff but the revenue staff did not report regularly as per the schedule fixed.
He also invited the attention of the DB to the indifferent attitude of Police Authorities and referred letter No. VC/PS/2017/837/41 dated August 29, 2017 whereby IGP Jammu was requested for providing police protection on permanent basis in terms of the direction passed by the DB on August 4, 2017.
Advocate Sharma further submitted that IGP Jammu vide letter No. Conf/3523/25 dated September 7, 2017 expressed his inability to provide police on the permanent basis owing to the shortage of manpower and multifarious duties. The status report further stated that the police assistance was provided on need basis and the JDA covered/fenced 50 kanals of JDA land in District Samba and 297 Kanals 10 Marlas of aforesaid land in District Jammu but due to non-availability of permanent security to the officers of JDA, the work suffered and could not be expedited. “There were certain cases wherein the territorial revenue staff could not carry out demarcation work due to resistance from the land mafia despite presence of police”, report added.
The report sought dedicated staff of Revenue and police to conduct the demarcation in time bound manner as per directions of the DB.
On being confronted with the status report filed by the JDA, Deputy Advocate General Ehsan Mirza appearing for Revenue/Police Departments countered the stance taken by JDA and submitted that Revenue Department has issued clear cut instructions to all the territorial Tehsildars to extend full cooperation to JDA in the ongoing demarcation exercise. He further submitted that the status report of JDA has not pointed out the names of officers/officials who remained remiss for carrying the directions of the DB. He sought some time to go through the status report filed by the JDA so that remedial measures, if any, be initiated.
At this stage Advocate S. S. Ahmed submitted that the status reports of the JDA filed so far present a dismal picture as it is clearly made out that some hidden hands in Revenue/Police are hand in glove with the land mafia and are making all out efforts to stall the ongoing demarcation.
Advocate S. S. Ahmed also submitted that in view of the fresh status report filed by JDA, the IGP Jammu and Deputy Commissioner of Jammu and Samba are required to be called in person so that these officers are apprised about the seriousness of the issue and the concern expressed by the Division Bench in the instant PIL of wide public importance.
Advocate S. S Ahmed also referred the latest encroachment of 50 Kanals 18 Marlas State Land in Khasra No. 482 situated at Village Rajpura, Patwar Halqa Panjore, Tehsil Marh District Jammu as pointed out by a whistleblower Satish Kumar Sharma, son of Mela Ram Sharma, resident of Rajpura (Marh) through the medium of miscellaneous application No. 06/2017. Advocate Ahmed submitted that although in papers the Girdawari of the illegal occupant has been expunged by the revenue department but the land still continues to be with land mafias who have kept poor nomads over the land just to retain their illegal possession. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that members of the land mafia have extended threats to the whistleblower and matter has been reported to the local police. Advocate Ahmed also exhibited some photographs showing the illegal possession over the State Land. The Division Bench however asked Advocate S. S. Ahmed to file response to the status report filed by SDM/Tehsildar Marh and also to place on record the photographs within two weeks from today.
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