Updated: November 14, 2021 7:31:07 am
IN A major relief to senior BJP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state Dr Nirmal Singh, and his wife Mamta Singh, the Jammu and Kashmir Special Tribunal has kept in abeyance the November 8 order of the Jammu Development Authority asking them to demolish their “illegally” built bungalow within five days. The house is located near the Army’s ammunition sub-depot in Ban village of Nagrota.
“The impugned order dated November 8 is kept in abeyance and the parties are directed to maintain status quo on the spot till the next date of hearing,” ordered the tribunal headed by Judicial Member Rajesh Sekri as it fixed the case for December 7. The order came on an appeal filed by Mamta Singh, also a senior BJP leader, against JDA’s order.
JDA’s Building Operation Controlling Authority had served an order on the Singhs, asking them to “remove the illegal structure on your own level within five days from the date of issuance of this order” or “the same shall be demolished by the enforcement wing of JDA and cost of removal shall be recovered from you as arrears of land revenue”.
Singh had moved into the building on July 23 last year even though the high court had, in May 2018, directed the authorities to ensure “strict implementation” of a 2015 notification barring general public from carrying out any construction within 1,000 yards of any defence work.
In her application before the Special Tribunal through her lawyers, Mamta Singh submitted that she was the owner of the residential plot. It was purchased on May 20, 2014, and the area where it was located was then outside the jurisdiction of any development authority.
Challenging the order, her counsel pointed out there was no complaint by any development authority as the house was built prior to the coming into force of Jammu Master Plan, 2032, notified on March 3, 2017, whereby as many as 103 villages (including Ban) were included under the jurisdiction of JDA.
“The only complaint regarding the contstruction…was from the Army authorities of 2201 Ammunition Point there. The residents of the area protested at restrictions being imposed as per the Works of Defence Act (WoDA), 1903,” the appellant said.
Singhs’ bungalow started a controversy in October 2017 when the Army asked the Jammu Deputy Commissioner to order police and civil administration to stop construction activity.
Following alleged inaction from the administration and police, the Army moved the High Court, stating that the construction work was just 580 yards from the perimeter boundary wall of the sub-depot whereas WoDA bars any construction activity up to 1,000 yards.
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