HC dismisses PIL on Raj Bagh skewed Bridge

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SRINAGAR: The Division Bench of High Court of Jammu and Kashmir comprising Chief Justice, Justice M. M. Kumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey has dismissed the petition seeking to challenge the decision of the government relating to construction of a bridge over River Jehlum near the Presentation Convent School, Raj Bagh.

The Government in its response had contended that the construction of the bridge was envisaged in the Master Plan 1971-91 and that the project cannot be construed to contravene any provision of the Master Plan. Moreover, 30 percent of the work on the bridge has already been completed and Rs 9.91 crore stands expended.

The Court in its judgment has observed that when a project is undertaken and crores of public money is spent, the petitioner in the garb of PIL cannot be permitted to challenge the policy decision. The plea about the viability of the bridge or its location and its technical aspects cannot be allowed to be raised by those who, admittedly, have no know how about the engineering aspects of the matter.

The Court in its judgment has also observed that many private schools like Mallinson, (girls) school, Biscoe school, Burn Hall school and Delhi Public School are all located in built up areas which have continuous flow of traffic and movement of large number of people, but they do not hinder any development work undertaken around these schools, nor do they complain of any disturbance in studies or raise any security concerns. The Court also observed that the concerns regarding environment and ecology raised by the petitioners are not genuine.

“The fundamental question that arises for consideration is whether the petitioners are really espousing a public cause in the petition. The contents of the petition overwhelmingly make it axiomatic that the petitioners have absolutely no public interest. Their endeavor, acting as proxy, is to protect the so-called interests of the School without minding about the larger interests of the populace. The environmental and ecological concerns sought to be raised are merely aimed at giving this petition a colour of public interest litigation”, the Court said. 

While dismissing the petitions, the Court observed that no grounds have been found to entertain the petition and dismissed it along with the connected CMPs with cost of Rs. 50,000 to be equally borne by the petitioners and paid within one month. The costs of realization have been ordered to be deposited in the legal aid fund of the High Court.

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