Lease extension of public assets not permissible beyond set period: HC

Lease extension of public assets not permissible beyond set period: HC
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Srinagar: The J&K High Court has held that no extension in lease period is permissible beyond set period in order to serve best public interest.
The court while dealing with the state of affairs regarding Gulmarg directed the state authorities to place on affidavit their stand with regard to the recovery of the possession of the property where leases/licenses have expired.
“We shall also be informed in the affidavit about the manner in which such public property shall be dealt with. If the same is to be allowed to private persons, the procedure which would be followed for the same should be explained to us,” the division bench directed.
The court passed the direction after attention was drawn to SRO 580 wherein the maximum period for which a lease could be granted was 40 years. “Obviously, no extension beyond this period is permissible,” the court said.
The court observed that it is trite that public property is held in public trust by the respondents and has to be dealt with in a non-arbitrary and transparent manner ensuring that public interest is best served.
“No person can be permitted to utilize the property with the intention of furthering of private interest of any person or authority. It has to be ensured that the maximum benefit results to the public as a result thereof,” the court recorded.
The court further directed to authorities to inform the court with regard to the amount which the lessee/licensee were required to pay towards the grant of leases and the status of the payments by the lessees.
The court remarked that on the expiry of lease/license, the erstwhile lessee/licensee acquires the status of an unauthorized occupant within the meaning of Section 2(g) of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1988.