High Court imposes Rs 1 lakh fine on petitioners for ‘preventing authorities from retrieving migrant land’

SRINAGAR — The High Court has imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on some petitioners for “preventing” authorities in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district from retrieving land of migrants by filing a petition before it.

A bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur imposed the costs on the petitioners observing, “Clearly, the intention of the petitioners appears to encroach the land of the migrants for which the District Magistrate, Anantnag was taking legal action under the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection, and Restraint on Distress Sales) Act, 1997.”

The court said that the genesis of the controversy in the present petition lies in an application filed by Gautam Bali and Sumeet Bali, who claim ownership over land measuring 7 kanal and 3 marlas falling under Survey No 309 of estate Mamal in tehsil Pahalgam.

“They filed an application for the protection of their property,” the court observed.

The petitioners, Imtiyaz Ahmad Shah, and others claimed that they purchased certain parcels of land under Survey No 310 in estate Mamal Pahalgam accompanied with rights of Shamlat falling under Survey No 309 and claimed that the official machinery should not interfere with their possession over the piece of land.

In the objections, the officials as also the migrants stated that no part of the Shamlat land was at all contained in the Survey stated by the petitioners.

The court pointed out that according to the report submitted by theTehsildar Pahalgam to the District Magistrate, Anantnag, it could be seen that the petitioners had installed an electricity generator on the land.

The court said that the petitioners themselves were not sure whether the Shamlat land was covered under (land purchased by them).

“The petitioners appeared to have constructed certain huts over their land and they are most probably running them as a commercial enterprise,” the court said. “They have appeared to have installed a generator set over the parcel of land belonging to the migrants.”

The bench pointed out that by resorting to the proceedings before the court, the petitioners had stalled the statutory authority from discharging its statutory functions under the Act of 1997, “which is meant to protect the properties of the migrants and prevent any unauthorised encroachment thereupon”.

“Through the present petition, the petitioners, to some extent, successfully prevented the said statutory from discharging its lawful functions on baseless grounds. No one can be permitted to exploit or abuse the process of law in the manner in which the petitioners have done in the present case,” the court said.

The court dismissed the petition imposing costs of Rs 1 lakh on the petitioners to be deposited in the registry of the court within a month.

“On the deposit of the amount, Rs 10,000 each should be credited into the accounts of the migrants directly through the banking channel,” the court said. “Balance of Rs 80,000 should be deposited by the Registry in the Advocates’ Welfare Fund.”

It said that the District Magistrate, Anantnag should also proceed to act under the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection, and Restraint on Distress Sales) Act, 1997 forthwith.