JAMMU: After Jammu and Kashmir Government failed to submit visibly clear maps of the forest areas, the Division Bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, comprising Chief Justice Baddar Durez Ahmed and Justice Alok Aradhe on Wednesday fixed 24th April as next date for the hearing in forest land grab case wherein a BJP Minister is alleged to have constructed a commercial multi-complex in Sunjwan area.
The government could not submit the maps, notifications and records right from day one clearly showing the notified forest areas in and around Jammu as directed by the Court on last hearing.
Dissatisfied with the joint demarcation report submitted by the revenue and forest authorities on 10th April, the last date of hearing, the DB had asked for detailed report with maps to verify the facts. The final joint demarcation report suggested that the land, where commercial complex has been constructed by the BJP Minister A.G Kohli is State land under Khasra No 264 while according to the petition filed by Advocate Ankur Sharma, the said land falls under Khasra No 356, which is forest land.
The BJP minister has also mentioned Khasra No 356 in all the correspondences with the various departments while renting out the same property to banks, telecom companies. He has also set up a school and a college in the said complex, the petition states.
Moreover, the Forest Department had also in its initial report had admitted that the said land is forest land. The Revenue Department delayed the report for over two years for the reasons best known to all as daughter of said BJP minister is senior officer in Revenue Department and presently posted as Additional Deputy Commissioner Jammu.
After series of directions of the High Court, the joint demarcation report was submitted on last date of hearing which admitted that the land under minister’s occupation is State land.
On this, the DB had ordered to prepare the detailed maps and procure it before the Court.
Today, Addl Advocate General Raman Sharma, who appeared on behalf of State Government stated that the drawing and maps are under process.
The DB directed to produce the record with maps on 24th April, 2017 with the directions that no more adjournments be sought.
Advocate Ankur Sharma, who is also petitioner in this case, told STATE TIMES that on last date of hearing the Court had said, “What morality does this minister has to continue (as a minister) despite an established case.
The Court also asked the Advocate appearing for the minister, “You should not even be standing before this Court defending a land grabber”.
On the conduct and arguments of Advocate General, the Court had said,” You are an aggrieved party; your land has been grabbed. Rather than being defensive, you are crying.”
The Court had also stated that the status report somehow tries to exonerate the person,” said Advocate Ankur Sharma to STATE TIMES.
“The joint status report has been tempered and new dimension has been added to the entire case”, said Advocate Sharma, adding “The Court on the last date of hearing had asked the Forest Department to bring all notifications and records right from day one clearly showing the notified forest areas in and around Jammu. Today, they were supposed to submit the detailed maps and reports. However, they have sought time and Court has fixed 24th April, as next date”, he added.
This development in the case is going to impact the entire forest area in and around Jammu that stands grabbed by influential, said Advocate Ankur Sharma.
The Court has directed the Revenue and Forest Department to produce visibly clear maps showing both the Khasra Nos that’s is Khasra No 356 Sunjwan as well as 264 Channi Rama.
Meanwhile, the Division Bench also ordered to club another PIL filed by Advocate Ankur Sharma with this case which has challenged the constitution validity of Roshni Act and seeking eviction of encroachers from 20 lakh Kanals of State land besides digitalisation/computerisation of J and K revenue records.
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© 2016 State Times Daily Newspaper