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SHAH KUL’S ENCROACHMENT | HC directs authorities to file report without fail

Underscoring that there is serious allegation of encroachment of public property, the court directed the J&K government through its Chief Secretary, Vice Chairman Lake Conservation and Management Authority Srinagar, Secretary Lakes and Conservation and Management Authority, Srinagar, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Srinagar, Director, Land Records Srinagar and Commissioner Srinagar Municipality to “file the report without fail” by April 24.
12:01 AM Apr 02, 2024 IST | D A RASHID
shah kul’s encroachment   hc directs authorities to file report without fail
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Srinagar, Apr 1:  The High Court of J&K and Ladakh Monday directed the authorities to submit a report attesting to “illegal encroachments” and the restoration of the original status of ‘Shah Kul’, a historical canal of importance and a national monument.

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Hearing a related Public Interest Litigation (PIL), a division bench of Chief Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Justice Muhammad Yousuf Wani also permitted the petitioners to submit a video recording of the alleged obstructions on the public road - Gupth Ganga upper Gousia Colony Isbar Nishat road.

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Underscoring that there is serious allegation of encroachment of public property, the court directed the J&K government through its Chief Secretary, Vice Chairman Lake Conservation and Management Authority Srinagar, Secretary Lakes and Conservation and Management Authority, Srinagar, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Srinagar, Director, Land Records Srinagar and Commissioner Srinagar Municipality to “file the report without fail” by April 24.

In December last year, the court issued notice on the PIL for the government's response. It had also issued notice to two private persons from Deewan Colony Ishber Nishat for their response to the PIL.
In response to the submission by the petitioner, Mir Muhammad Shafi, that two private persons (Respondent Nos 18 and 19) were engaged in illegal construction by raising the concrete walls, the court had made it clear that if any illegal construction was made without following the due process of law, the same would be at their risk and would be dealt with by the law.

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The petitioner had also put as “annexure”, a copy of Greater Kashmir dated March 9, 2003, with the petition wherein the newspaper had highlighted the encroachments of the Shah Kul with photographs which attested to these encroachments.

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The PIL seeks the court’s intervention for the removal of all illegal encroachments and restoration of the original status of the historical canal.

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It also seeks directions for the restoration of adjoining roads encroached upon by the two private persons.

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While the PIL seeks directions for constituting a high-level committee comprising an officer of ACB and other investigation wings to investigate the “gross mismanagement of the official respondents (authorities)”, it calls for an investigation by CBI to inquire the conduct of the officials in the matter.

Besides other things, the petitioner has referred to a communication by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to Directorate Land Records in 2004 that Shah Kaul, “having national monumental value and a main source of supplying water to Nishat Garden since the time of King Jahangir, has been encroached upon, resulting into loss of lakhs of rupees because the water required for Nishat Garden is being now lifted through mechanical pumps”.

The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, had sought the removal of all types of encroachments on the canal and had also ensured appropriate action against the culprits.

“However, no action has been taken,” the petitioner contended.

While the PIL underscores that the authorities are legally bound at first instance to carry out and act on their reports and orders in its letter and spirit, so to restore the original status of the ‘Shah Kaul’, it urges for removing all encroachments made in and around the ‘Kaul’.

It also seeks to remove the blockage of two public roads for having general public interest and historical importance.

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