HC warns SMC staff against illegal constructions

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has warned Field Agency of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) against illegal constructions, underlining that henceforth they shall be personally liable and accountable for “disciplinary action” if they fail to act in time to stop them.
A division bench of Justices Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Hasnain Massodi passed the direction after perusing a report filed by the SMC in compliance to the direction about illegal under-constructions in this summer capital of the state.
The SMC has claimed that a number of illegal constructions as had come up have been demolished by it.
While examining the report, the bench said, it appears that some of the constructions have been raised above plinth level before being noticed by the Corporation staff.
“It is not understandable as to how the officers/officials of the Municipality are working in their respective wards in allowing such illegal constructions to come up to the first and second storey and why they have not swung into action,” the bench observed.
“We hope and expect that SMC will take note of the observation and then to make Field Agency aware that henceforth whenever any illegal construction in any area is raised such constructions shall be stopped immediately and in case it comes up above the plinth level they shall be personally responsible, accountable and liable for disciplinary action.”
The bench also granted four weeks time to the SMC, Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) as well as Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, to compliance report to its direction of proceeding under anti-graft law against the erring officials responsible for allowing construction in violation of Srinagar Master Plan and the building laws in this summer capital of the state in last two decades.
The granted the time after hearing advocate F A Mir, standing counsel for SMC, who submitted that for ensuring complete compliance of the directions, the Corporation has initiated various processes and has taken a number of steps.
However, he said the process is “cumbersome” and therefore some time was required.
“At the first instance four weeks time is granted. Same time shall be also available to other authorities such as LAWDA and SDA,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by advocate Mujeeb Andrabi through his counsel advocate Firdous Ahmad Parray, seeking among other directions to clear Srinagar city of illegal constructions.
On last date of hearing, the bench had passed the direction after observing that the recently enacted Jammu and Kashmir Civic Laws (Special Provisions) Act 2014 does not prohibit action against the erring officials of SMC, SDA and the LAWDA, who directly or indirectly facilitated raising of unauthorized and illegal constructions in contravention of Master Plan 2000-2021.
On March 5, the J&K government formally enacted the new Act to protect, for one year, thousands of unauthorized constructions that have come up in twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu besides Katra, a small town in Udhampur district of the state.
However, the provisions of the Act will not protect under construction or the buildings and structures which had been not completed on date of commencement of the Act (March 5, 2014).
The provisions of the Act will not also apply on buildings and structures constructed on public land, road or other public utility and also to constructions not complying with respect to safety, if any issued by the government.