HC pulls up SMC over illegal constructions

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Tuesday pulled up Srinagar Municipal Corporation over “disregard” to its directions on illegal constructions which have not been protected by recently enacted legislation in the state.
“There is game being played, that we can see,” a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar said after hearing counsel for SMC, Advocate F A Mir.
“You are trying to say that there was no direction (issued on last date of hearing on May 26),” the bench said.
“I will file fresh status report within two days,” Mir replied.
“What for two days? Ask (SMC Commissioner, Dr GN) Qasba to remain present in the court. You see your annexure (attached to status report); in Ward no. 2 B, a building is under progress and you are unable to do anything. There are a number of buildings were construction is in progress,” the bench said.
“I will do it by tomorrow,” Mir replied.
“Status report by SMC does not show any scant regard to the direction issued on (May 26), the court said. “A perusal of various paras of status report would reveal that the responsibility is sought to be shifted,” the bench said in the order later.
“In last order, we have given specific instances, showing whereever construction is in progress and is in violation of law, the same has not been protected by the Act known as Jammu and Kashmir Civic Laws (Special Provisions) Act 2014,” the bench said.
“We have also observed in the (last) order that in case SMC comes across any resistance to the implementation of the directions passed by this court, then Corporation was at liberty to seek police help,” the court said, asking advocate Mir to file status report in terms of May 26 last order by Wednesday.
In case of failure to do so, the court directed that Dr Qasba, the SMC Commissioner, shall remain present in person.
The court also asked advocate G J Bala, representing Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) to file compliance report during the same time and posted the case for Wednesday.
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 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.
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.