STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: A Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice Sanjay Gupta on Tuesday in the open court extended 10 days further time for filing of response by the Commissioner/Secretary to Government of J&K General Administration Department, Commissioner/ Secretary to Government of J&K Housing and Urban Development Department (H&UDD), Director State Vigilance Organization (SVO), Jeet Lal Gupta (IAS) Former Commissioner /Secretary to Government of J&K Housing and Urban Development Department, Surinder Kumar PSO to Commissioner/ Secretary to Government of J&K H&UDD, Balbir Singh (Driver SUDA) and Kharati Lal, son of Mani Ram in a much publicized Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Irtiza Mushtaq, a practicing lawyer of J&K High Court seeking quashment of orders whereby Jammu Municipal Corporation has allotted 10 Municipal Flats situated at Gandhi Nagar, Jammu on pick and choose basis.
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for the petitioner submitted that on April 17, 2018, a Division Bench headed by then Acting Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar had granted three weeks further time for filing of response by GAD, H&UDD, Former IAS Officer Jeet Lal Gupta and others but despite the expiry of three weeks the replies have not been filed and the matter is being delayed because of the delaying tactics of the senior functionaries of the State Government.
He argued that before filing the instant PIL, the petitioner had served a detailed legal notice calling upon the then Deputy Chief Minister (Minister Incharge Housing and Urban Development Department), Secretaries GAD, H&UDD and Commissioner JMC to initiate a high level probe into the illegal/backdoor allotments of Municipal Flats/Quarters with a further request to rescind such arbitrary allotments and also to initiate appropriate action against the delinquent officers/officials of JMC and also to get the allotment scam entrusted to State Vigilance Organisation for a thorough probe.
Advocate Ahmed further submitted that replies of GAD and H&UDD are mandatory as the aforesaid respondents are under an obligation to disclose before the Division Bench the action initiated upon receipt of the legal notice dated October 4, 2017 and further submitted that both GAD and H&UDD are silent on the subject and are inclined to shield the tainted officers/officials of JMC who resorted to illegal allotments by abusing their official position thereby causing immense loss to the state exchequer.
At this stage Senior AAG S.S. Nanda appearing for GAD and H&UDD requested the Division Bench for extending further two weeks time enabling him to file the response of the aforesaid Departments. However the Division Bench allowed 10 days time to Senior AAG S.S. Nanda to do the needful.
A battery of lawyers including Senior Advocate U.K. Jalali, Advocates S.K. Anand, Adarsh Sharma, Abhinav Sharma, Ajay Bakshi, Ratish Mahajan appeared on behalf of the beneficiaries (private respondents) and on their prayer the Division Bench granted further 10 days time to file response to the PIL.
Former Joint Commissioner (Adm) JMC R.S Jamwal (KAS) and Ex-PA to Commissioner JMC Madan Mohan Khajooria filed their response to the PIL through Advocates Jugal Kishore Gupta and Ratish Mahajan. Advocates Ajay Bakshi and Manjeet Partap Singh also filed their reply on behalf of Narinder Sharma President PEACE (NGO).
The Advocates appearing for the beneficiaries submitted that in the instant PIL the petitioner has selectively questioned the allotment of 10 Municipal Flats at Gandhi Nagar, Jammu whereas there are around 300 such allottees in Jammu City and there is no challenge to such allotments.
At this stage Advocate S.S. Ahmed invited the attention of the Division Bench towards paras 16 to 18 of the PIL wherein it is pointed out that the 10 illegal allotments of Flats at Gandhi Nagar, Jammu is just a tip of the ice berg as JMC has brazenly allotted its four bungalows situated at Krishna Nagar, Jammu to private persons for unknown reasons. “Further in para 17 it is clearly stated that JMC has allotted several flats/shops to its various officers who are not in service at throw away prices and in one such case just opposite Government College for Women, Parade, Jammu the petitioner has reliably learnt that a malaria/DTT centre was illegally allotted to an ex-Chief Khilafwarzi officer who later converted the said malaria centre into a commercial establishment and there are several such cases and only a thorough and court monitored probe can unearth the allotment scam of JMC employees”, he submitted adding that now the entire issue is before the Division Bench and he has no objection in case all such allotments are re-opened and put to scrutiny through State Vigilance Organisation or by a committee constituted by the Division Bench. Senior Advocate U.K Jalali at this stage submitted that the instant PIL is not maintainable as the petitioner has no locus standi to file the present petition as there is no element of public interest involved in the matter.
Upon this, Advocate S.S Ahmed submitted that the instant petition highlights allotment scam of big magnitude where public property worth crores of rupees is being looted by a powerful lobby of municipal employees of JMC and prime properties of JMC are being utilised by the beneficiaries at a meager rent of Rs.900 to Rs.1000 per month that too at posh places like Gandhi Nagar, Jammu.
Advocate Ahmed further submitted that petitioner is a young lawyer and has highlighted a allotment scam after getting the information through RTI and the instant petition involves element of public interest and the issue involved in the petition is a fit one to be entrusted to SVO for a thorough probe.
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