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Tribunal allows “illegal” construction, comes under scanner of Jammu and Kashmir High Court


NEW DELHI: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has taken serious note of the orders being passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Special Tribunal, which has allegedly been “letting off” individuals who undertake unauthorised constructions by merely levying a penalty. Infact, the High Court has stayed the orders by the Tribunal in three cases in the past one week.

Aggrieved by the “illegal” orders passed by the Tribunal, the Building Operation Controlling Authority, Jammu, had petitioned the High Court alleging that the Tribunal “in routine is passing orders, which are totally contrary to the law. No distinction is known to the presiding officer about illegalities and irregularities”.

In one of the cases, the High Court has even ordered an inquiry into the role of officers of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank by the “competent authority” in the Bank for “sanctioning and advancing loan worth crores of rupees for raising a building beyond the sanctioned plan”.

Sample this: In one case, as against the sanctioned area of 31,844 sq ft, the construction (for a commercial property) raised spans across 1,41,165 sq ft (which was about five times the sanctioned area). The Tribunal considered the area to the extent of 64,238 sq ft as validly constructed and found violation only to the extent 45,083 sq ft.

In its case in the High Court, the Authority has alleged that the Tribunal let off the violator with a penalty of Rs 100 per square feet by considering such a major violation as a “minor violation”. Taking serious note of this, the High Court has directed the authorities to seal the additional unauthorised construction raised in all the three cases.

The High Court has asked the state authorities to fix responsibility of the persons “who are entrusted the duty to oversee the construction being raised but keep their eyes closed. The competent authority shall get the matter inquired into and fix responsibility. The role of the structural engineer, who is to oversee the construction also needs to be examined, as to why he did not report the matter to the authorities that the construction is being raised beyond the sanctioned plans”.

The Building Operation Controlling Authority, Jammu, further submitted that the Tribunal has failed to find the difference between “illegality” and “irregularity”. This is leading towards total anarchy as people have started taking the law into their own hands as they feel that they can get any violation compounded (let off on a penalty) from the Tribunal.

It was argued that the Tribunal had gone to the extent of examining the master plan of the city to justify the illegal constructions. “It was for the competent authority to examine those issues while granting permission. By doing that exercise, the Tribunal had tried to put the cart before the horse”, the Authority argued.

It has even sought to examine the role of the officers of the Corporation or the authority, suspecting that they “may also be hand in glove, otherwise such a huge construction, in violation of the sanctioned plan, cannot possibly be raised”.

The Authority said “the matter is required to be investigated, may be referring the same to a premier investigating agency. In fact, the entire city (Jammu) is now struggling with illegal constructions being raised and that is because of the aforesaid reason everybody is taking the law into their own hands”.

Among the properties ordered to be sealed by the High Court, is a portion of a banquet hall which was constructed in violation to the sanctioned area.

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