HC bans conversion of hotels into guesthouses without its permission

Srinagar: Without an ‘express order’ from Jammu and Kashmir High Court, no hotel can be converted into a guesthouse by Tourism Department henceforth in the state.
The direction was issued Thursday by a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar even as it accepted the objections filed by Assistant Director Tourism and Legal Advisor State Pollution Control Board to the application, alleging that the duo were advising hoteliers to convert their hotels into guesthouses in order to circumvent the provisions of law and orders of the court from time in PIL— Rafiq Ahmad Zargar Vs State.
The complaint was received in the Chief Justice Secretariat last month and subsequently the division bench issued notice to the Assistant Director Tourism and the Legal Advisor SPCB to show cause as to why action be not taken for tendering advise to circumvent the process of law as well as the orders of the court.
The bench had directed them to file the list of their immovable and movable assets before the court on the next of hearing in a PIL on Gulmarg (on June 5).
In response to the notice, Assistant Director said that no application has been received by him for the conversion of hotel into guesthouse. In fact, he claimed that no such conversion has been effected during his tenure as Assistant Director.
Likewise, the Legal Advisor SPCB stated that he did not tender any kind of advice to hoteliers to convert hotels into guesthouses.
“Be that as it may, the objections filed by Assistant Director Tourism and Legal Advisor SPCB are accepted at this stage because both of them in categorical terms have stated that no such effort is being made by either of them to circumvent due process of law and directions by this court,” the division bench said.
“However, we want to make it clear that if any such conversion is to take place, then it will not be permitted without express orders obtained from this court,” the bench added and directed that a copy of the order be send to Director Tourism and chairman SPCB for compliance.