Jammu: Jammu: Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice Sanjay Gupta today in the open court extended 10 days further time for filing of response by the commissioner-secretary, GAD, commissioner-secretary HUDD, Director SVO, Jeet Lal Gupta, Surinder Kumar, Balbir Singh and Kharati Lal in a much publicized Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Irtiza Mushtaq a practicing lawyer of J&K High Court seeking quashment of orders whereby Jammu Municipal Corporation has allotted 10 Municipal Flats situated at Gandhi Nagar, Jammu on pick and choose basis.
When this PIL came up for hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for the petitioner submitted that on April, 17, 2018 a Division Bench headed by then Acting Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar had granted 03 weeks further time for filing of response by GAD, H&UDD, Jeet Lal Gupta and others but despite the expiry of 03 weeks the replies have not been filed and the matter is being delayed because of the delaying tactics of the senior functionaries of the State Government.
Advocate S.S. Ahmed vehemently argued that before filing the instant PIL, the petitioner had served a detailed legal notice calling upon the then Deputy Chief Minister (Minister Incharge Housing and Urban Development Department), Secretaries GAD, H&UDD and Commissioner JMC to initiate a high level probe into the illegal/backdoor allotments of Municipal Flats with a further request to rescind such arbitrary allotments and also to initiate appropriate action against the delinquent officers/officials of JMC and also to get the allotment scam entrusted to State Vigilance Organization for a thorough probe.
A battery of lawyers including senior advocate U.K. Jalali, Advocates S.K. Anand, Adarsh Sharma, Abhinav Sharma, Ajay Bakshi, Ratish Mahajan appeared on behalf of the beneficiaries (private respondents) and on their prayer the Division Bench granted further 10 days time to file response to the PIL.
Today the Advocates appearing for the beneficiaries submitted that in the instant PIL the petitioner has selectively questioned the allotment of 10 Municipal Flats at Gandhi Nagar, Jammu whereas there are around 300 such allottees in Jammu City and there is no challenge to such allotments. At this stage Advocate S.S. Ahmed invited the attention of the Division Bench towards paras 16 to 18 of the PIL wherein it is pointed out that the 10 illegal allotments of Flats at Gandhi Nagar, Jammu is just a tip of the ice berg as JMC has brazenly allotted its four bungalows situated at Krishna Nagar, Jammu to private persons for unknown reasons.
Further in para 17 it is clearly stated that JMC has allotted several flats/shops to its various officers who are not in service at throw away prices and in one such case just Opposite Govt. College for Women, Parade, Jammu the petitioner has reliably learnt that a malaria/DTT centre was illegally allotted to an ex-Chief Khilafwarzi officer who later converted the said malaria centre into a commercial establishment and there are several such cases and only a thorough and court monitored probe can unearth the allotment scam of JMC employees.
Advocate S.S. Ahmed further submitted that now the entire issue is before the Hon’ble Division Bench and he has no objection in case all such allotments are re-opened and put to scrutiny through State Vigilance Organization or by a committee constituted by the Division Bench. Senior Advocate U.K. Jalali at this stage submitted that the instant PIL is not maintainable as the petitioner has no locus standi to file the present petition as there is no element of public interest involved in the matter.
While rebutting the submissions of Senior Advocate U.K. Jalali, Advocate S.S. Ahmed submitted that the instant petition highlights allotment scam of big magnitude where public property worth crores of rupees is being looted by a powerful lobby of municipal employees of JMC and prime properties of JMC are being utilized by the beneficiaries at a meager rent of Rs.900/- to Rs.1000/- per month that too at posh places like Gandhi Nagar, Jammu. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that petitioner is a young lawyer and has highlighted a allotment scam after getting the information through RTI and the instant petition involves element of public interest and the issue involved in the petition is a fit one to be entrusted to SVO for a thorough probe.
After considering the submissions of both the sides, the Division Bench headed by Justice Alok Aradhe in the open court extended 10 days further time for filing response by the Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K General Administration Department, Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K Housing and Urban Development Department, Director Vigilance State Vigilance Organization, Jeet Lal Gupta (IAS) Former Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K Housing and Urban Development Department, Surinder Kumar PSO to Commissioner/ Secretary to Govt. of J&K H&UDD, Balbir Singh (Driver SUDA) and Kharati Lal S/o Mani Ram