HC directs for videography of demarcation of JDA land

JAMMU, SEP 13: In the much publicized Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting land grabbing and encroachment of more than 20 lakh kanal of State Land by politicians, bureaucrats, Police officers in league with land mafia, today a Division Bench of the State High Court Jammu Wing comprising Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice B S Walia expressed displeasure over infighting and taking of divergent stances by the JDA, Revenue and Police in the ongoing demarcation exercise of more than 66000 Kanal of JDA land in Jammu/Samba districts, as per directions of the Division Bench vide its order dated December 10, 2014 read with order dated May 23, 2017. The Deputy Advocate General Ehsan Mirza appearing for Revenue/ Police after being pulled up by the Division Bench undertook to comply with directions of Division Bench by providing requisite manpower from the Revenue Department and also to provide protection on permanent basis to the officers of JDA as and when required and requisitioned by JDA to carry out schedule of demarcation in Jammu /Samba districts. The DB also directed advocate Adarsh Sharma appearing for JDA and Deputy AG Ehsan Mirza appearing for Revenue/Police Departments to file updated status of the ongoing demarcation of JDA land in the twin districts of Jammu/Samba within 3 weeks.
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Rahul Raina and Supriya Chouhan appearing for the PIL at the very outset submitted that land mafia is causing obstruction in the ongoing demarcation drive and there is every apprehension of law and order problem and Advocate Ahmed specifically invited the attention of the Division Bench towards order dated December 10, 2014 passed by a Division Bench of the State High Court then headed by Chief Justice M M Kumar (retired) wherein the Division Bench had directed for videography of entire demarcation exercise of JDA Land in Jammu/Samba. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that the demarcation so far carried out has not been videographed and in view of the resistance offered by the Land mafia, the directions are required to be issued to comply the order dated December 10, 2014 so that the left over demarcation exercise is videographed. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that videography will help in identification of the land mafia and will also help in finding out and ascertaining the role of delinquent officers/ officials associated with the demarcation process.
Today when the PIL against land grabbing came up for hearing, Advocate Adarsh Sharma appearing for JDA produced the fresh status report in the open court wherein it was divulged that JDA took up the matter with the Deputy Commissioners Jammu/Samba and also communicated details of Khasra nos wherein the Revenue record was awaited despite identification/demarcation of JDA Land. The status report further said that Director Land Management, JDA vide letter no JDA/DLM/HQA/487-95, dated 23.08.2017 and letter no JDA/DLM/HQA/496-504, dated 23.08.2017 even intimated the Deputy Commissioners, Jammu/ Samba respectively about poor progress of demarcation of JDA Land. The status report further says that the JDA issued demarcation schedule and requested for the requirement of Revenue staff. The Revenue staff reported for the demarcation, but the schedule was not strictly adhered resulting into very slow progress. The progress was very slow for the reason that the Revenue staff did not report regularly as per fixed schedule.
Advocate Adarsh Sharma also invited the attention of the DB to the indifferent attitude of Police Authorities and referred letter No VC/PS/2017/837/41, dated 29.08.2017 whereby IGP Jammu was requested for providing Police protection on permanent basis in terms of the direction passed by the DB on August 4, 2017. Advocate Sharma further submitted that IGP Jammu vide letter no Conf/3523/25, dated 07.09.2017 expressed his inability to provide Police assistance on the permanent basis owing to the shortage of Manpower and multifarious duties. The status report further informed that Police assistance was provided on need basis and JDA covered/fenced 50 kanal of JDA land in Samba and 297 kanal 10 Marla of land in Jammu. However, due to non-availability of permanent security both for eviction/removal of encroachment and officers of JDA, the work suffered and could not be expedited. There were certain cases wherein the territorial revenue staff could not carry out demarcation work due to resistance from the land mafia, despite presence of police.
The JDA’s status report further divulged that since Revenue staff and territorial Police generally remains occupied with the multifarious duties, the dedicated staff is required by JDA to accomplish exercise of identification, demarcation and retrieval of thousands of kanal of JDA land from encroachers in time bound manner to implement the High Court orders. The JDA is fully prepared for putting cemented boundary pillars, fencing and providing men and machinery for carrying demolition works of unauthorized structures built illegally over State/JDA Land provided the Revenue Department conducts demarcation in time bound manner as per directions of the DB.
On being confronted with the status report filed by the JDA, Deputy Advocate General Ehsan Mirza appearing for Revenue/Police Departments countered the stance taken by JDA and submitted that Revenue Department has issued clear cut instructions to all the territorial Tehsildars to extend full cooperation to JDA in ongoing demarcation exercise. He further submitted that the status report of JDA has not pointed out names of officers/officials of the Revenue Department, who missed their duties for carrying out the directions of the Division Bench. The Deputy AG Ehsan Mirza further submitted that any lapse on the part of officers/officials will be dealt sternly by the Revenue Department. He further sought some time to go through the status report filed by the JDA so that remedial measures, if any, be initiated. The Deputy AG assured the Division Bench in the open Court that any request of JDA for manpower and for providing revenue records will be adhered to without any further delay.
At this stage Advocate S S Ahmed submitted that big chunks of JDA Land has been encroached by influential people and JDA has not so far touched those people and even demarcation so far carried out has received massive resistance from Land Mafia and time and again the JDA has expressed non cooperation by Revenue and Police agencies. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that the status reports of the JDA filed so far present a dismal picture as it is clearly made out that some hidden hands in Revenue/Police are hand in glove with the land mafia and are making all out efforts to stall the ongoing demarcation. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that it is because of the lackadaisical approach of the Revenue / Police the demarcation is far behind its schedule as six months time was earmarked by the Division Bench for completion of the whole exercise.
Advocate S S Ahmed also submitted that in view of the fresh status report filed by JDA, the IGP Jammu and Deputy Commissioner of Jammu and Samba are required to be called in person so that these officers are apprised about the seriousness of the issue and the concern expressed by the Division Bench in the instant PIL of wide public importance.
At this stage Deputy AG Ehsan Mirza extended his full assurance on behalf of the State Government that at this stage the aforesaid officers may not be called and the directions of the Division Bench will be carried out in its letter and spirit.
Advocate S S Ahmed also referred the latest encroachment of 50 kanal 18 marla State land in khasra no 482 situated at Village Rajpura, patwar Halqa Panjore, Tehsil Marh District Jammu as pointed out by a whistleblower Satish Kumar Sharma S/o Mela Ram Sharma R/o Rajpura (Marh) through medium of miscellaneous application no 06/2017. Advocate Ahmed submitted that although in papers the Girdawari of illegal occupant has been expunged by the Revenue department but the land still continues to be with land mafias who have kept poor nomads over the land just to retain their illegal possession. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that members of the land mafia have extended threats to the whistleblower and matter has been reported to the local police. Advocate Ahmed also exhibited some photographs showing the illegal possession over the State land. The Division Bench however asked Advocate S S Ahmed to file response to the status report filed by SDM/Tehsildar Marh and also to place on record the photographs within two weeks from today.
After considering the rival contentions from both the sides the Division Bench while expressing its displeasure over the divergent stances taken by JDA, Revenue and Police directed the videography of entire demarcation exercise and also directed Revenue and JDA to file updated status report within three weeks and Deputy AG Ehsan Mirza also undertook to comply directions of the Division Bench in letter and spirit. (JNF)