Senior advocate Zafar Shah included in the panel headed by chief secretary
Srinagar: The J&K High Court has directed a panel headed by Chief Secretary to decide on enactment of a law for preservation and protection of famed Dal Lake, one of the most endangered water bodies in Kashmir.
The direction came from the division bench comprising Justices
Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey following an order on inclusion of senior advocate Zafar Ahmad Shah as part of the high-level government panel constituted on April 27.
Shah has been amicus curie in a Public Interest Litigation for saving Dal Lake since the beginning of the court hearings of the sensitive issue since July 2002.
On previous hearing in the PIL on April 16, the court had requested the advocate general DC Raina to include Shah in the committee.
The court asked the state’s highest law officer as to why Shah was not included in the panel despite the directions. Raina submitted that Shah’s formal consent was required for the purpose. On this, Shah offered his consent in the open court encouraging the advocate general to assure that a corrigendum would be issued to the government’s April 27order.
“It is provided that besides including Shah as member of the monitoring committee, state (government) would be at liberty to include any other authority or person, whose presence in the committee would be deemed necessary for taking proper decisions,” the court said and directed monitoring committee to convene its meeting this week.
“We leave it (enactment of the law) to the monitoring committee of which Shah will be part now to take call on this vital issue,” the court said after hearing Shah.
Shah submitted that until there was not a law enacted by the State government through which mechanism for preserving and protecting the Lake and other bodies was regulated, it might be difficult to achieve the purposes by any executive committee.
According to the April 27 order of the government, with chief secretary as chairman, the other members of the committee include financial commissioner planning and development, director general of police, principal secretary forest, divisional commissioner Kashmir, commissioner secretaries of finance, housing & urban development department, law justice and parliament affairs, inspector general of police Kashmir, secretary tourism and vice chairman lakes and waterways development authority (member secretary).
“The first issue to be considered by the committee shall be for evolving a permanent mechanism for preservation and protection of the Dal Lake and other water bodies,” the court said and directed it to submit report about the deliberations made and decisions taken in the meeting.
Meanwhile the court-appointed vigilance commissioners—Mohammad Shafi Khan (retired session judge) and Abdul Hamid Bhat (former SSP)—filed their latest report and the court directed its registry to provide copy of the report to Senior Additional Advocate General.
“The monitoring committee shall look into this report and take remedial steps,” the court added and posted the PIL on May 27.