Srinagar, Sep 16: Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has sought details of 48 politicians who occupy ministerial bungalows in Jammu, Srinagar despite having own personal houses
The order issued by the division bench comprising chief justice N Kotiswar Singh and justice Rajesh Sekhri directed the petitioner’s counsel Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed and senior additional advocate general (AAG) SS Nanda appearing for the estates department to submit a list of the politicians who own houses in Jammu or Kashmir as was mentioned in a status report filed on March 28.
Notably, Estates department had submitted a list of 48 politicians who were allowed to utilise government accommodation in Jammu and Srinagar while 23 of these were in Jammu, 25 were in Srinagar.
He had also sought directions to the estates department to ensure eviction of illegal occupants from government accommodations in view of dissolution of the state assembly in June 2018.
Sheikh Ahmed who appeared for activist Bhalla drew the courts attention towards the laws pertaining to the occupancy of government accommodation provisions about persons not eligible for allotment of residential accommodation who own or possess a house in the concerned city or are in default of payment of license fee etc.
Advocate SS Ahmed submitted to the court that several politicians who own houses in Jammu and Srinagar cities have been allowed to retain the government accommodation despite the clear provisions.
SS Ahmed also read the names of 48 politicians from March 28 compliance report submitted by Estates departmen which included Ghulam Nabi Azad (former CM), Shamsher Singh Manhas (ex-MP), Muzzaffar Hussain Beigh (ex-MP), Chander Mohan Gupta (ex-mayor), Kavinder Gupta (ex-deputy CM), Sunil Sharma (former minister), Ravinder Raina (BJP state president), GM Saroori (ex-MLA), Neelam Langeh (ex-MLA), Daleep Singh Parihar (ex-MLA), Bali Bhagat (former minister), Sat Sharma (former minister), Ravinder Sharma (ex-MLC), Shilpy Verma, Sajjad Gani Lone (ex-MLA), Hakim Mohammad Yaseen (ex-MLA), Sofi Yousaf (ex-MLC), Abdul Majid Paddar (ex-MLA), Vikram Randhawa (ex-MLC), Mohammad Amin Bhat (ex-MLA) and Zafar Iqbal Manhas (ex-MLC).
During the hearing, Advocate SS Ahmed argued that estates department is adopting double standards as as 200 leaders, including former CMs, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, were evicted earlier in a similar situation.
Advocate SS Ahmed also cited the judgment on December 26, 2022 by the bench that security assessment and entitlement to government accommodation are two different issues.
The Division Bench directed senior AAG SS Nanda to submit whether any of the 48 politicians has an alternative accommodation in Jammu or in Kashmir.
The next hearing is scheduled for September 25.