Srinagar: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on Friday directed government authorities to permit hoteliers in Gulmarg to carry out repairs and renovations in accordance with law.
The bench of chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Mohammad Akram Chowdhary noted that hotel owners had taken possession of the land on the strength of lease deeds and were not unauthorised occupants.
The bench recorded that they (hoteliers) were running hotels after raising super structures which requires repairs with the passage of time and for improvement of hotel facilities.
“Therefore, they cannot be denied such repairs as it would tantamount to interfering with their right to business,” the bench recorded.
The court said, “In the facts and circumstances of the case, we direct the Building Operation Controlling Authority (BOCA) / Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) to consider the applications/ representations of all the applicants/ hotel owners or any other person interested for the repairs/ constructions of building strictly in accordance with law.”
“Once consideration is accorded by the BOCA/GDA, the applicants would seek the approval of the Court before implementing the permission or raising the construction, as has been directed by one of the earlier order of this Court,” the bench said.
The court pointed out that the repairs/ constructions that would be raised at any of the land would be subject to the ultimate decision to be taken by the government with regard to the extension/ renewal of lease.
It was submitted before court that the lease deeds of most of the owners of the hotels stand expired but their renewal or extension is not being considered by the government. Rather, the matter has been kept in cold storage, with the result that almost all hotels are being run on land with expired lease.
It was also submitted that when hotel owners applied for permission for repairs or some construction, they were refused permission on the grounds that their lease stands expired.
The court while taking the submission on record directed the authorities to take a decision with regard to the renewal of lease deeds which have already expired in accordance with the policy which was in vogue when the leases were granted. “We expect that such a decision is taken by the UT Government most expeditiously, preferably within three months,” the court said.
Meantime, the court noted that in those cases where permission has already been granted by the BOCA and has been approved by the court but even then the applicants have not been allowed to carry out the necessary repairs/ construction only for the reason that the lease has expired, the BOCA/GDA would permit such applicants to carry out repairs/ constructions in accordance with the permissions granted after duly verifying the correctness of facts.