HC notices to govt on alleged encroachment by fmr minister

TNN Bureau. Updated: 2/21/2020 11:12:04 AM Front Page

JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday issued notices to government, and directed a physical inspection of 10 kanal forest land allegedly encroached by former BJP minister Abdul Gani Kohli, and used for building an educational complex on it, besides a branch of J&K Bank, at Nowabad in Sunjwan.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Advocate Ankur Sharma, seeking FIR against Kohli for encroaching the land and building a B.Ed College, ETT College, BN Para Medical School, BN Public School, and an ATM and Branch of J&K Bank on it.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan directed for a copy of the writ petition and all the status reports on record be made available to the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu as well as the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, who were directed to scrutinize the entire records and submit a report.
“These officers shall cause a physical inspection of the land to be undertaken and, if necessary, fresh demarcation be conducted by an officer not below the rank of Deputy Commissioner,” the court ordered.
“A report regarding the land in question shall be filed by them before us within four weeks from today,” it said.
The court also took notice of a contradictory report filed by Senior Superintendent of Police, Vigilance Organization, Jammu which stated that the land was not a forest land but was a public land.
“As per the report of Divisional Forest Officer, Jammu, Khasra 356 of Village Nowabad, Sunjwan is forest land, thereby substantiating the basic allegation of the complainant,” the court noted.
“Even if the report of the SSP terming the land in question a state land was to be accepted, it is shocking that he has not only permitted continuation of the encroachment but enable buildings to come up on
State land without having taken any action for the same,” it said.
DB observed that another important aspect is as to how no objections stand granted to run educational institutions and banking facilities in the property constructed on the land which has been encroached. The fact that forest land has been registered in the name of private parties is also illegal and a serious matter, it said.
The court issued notice to the Secretary, Board of School Education, Jammu returnable on 12th March 2020 to explain as to how the ETT institution has been permitted to be run on public or forest land.
It also issued notice to the Secretary, Revenue Department as to how the forest land has been registered in the name of private persons.
The court also expressed its anguish over the fact the petition has not been listed by the Registry after 19th April, 2017, despite specific direction to list the same on 26th April, 2017.
“We shall deal with this lapse at a later stage,” it said. JNF

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