Srinagar Ring Road Project: HC Gives Last Chance To J&K Govt

Srinagar- The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh on Tuesday extended the stay order on construction of Srinagar Ring Road till March10, 2022 and granted a last opportunity to the government, in particular the Deputy Commissioner, Budgam to file objections in six weeks.

The High Court division bench of Justice Ali Mohammed Magrey and Justice Javaid Iqbal has also directed the Deputy Commissioner, Budgam to appear personally in the court in case he fails to submit the response till the next date of hearing.

“Last and final opportunity of six weeks is granted to the respondents for filing the objections in all these clubbed petition, of course, except where objections stand already filed failing which the respondent-Deputy Commissioner Budgam shall appear in person before the court on the next date of hearing[list on 10th of March, 2022] along with the relevant records.” reads the High court order, a copy which lies with Kashmir Observer.

The court has also mentioned that, “Interim direction(s)[Status quo], if any subsisting as on date, shall continue to remain in operation till the next date along with the relevant records”.

It is pertinent to mention here, that earlier this year several aggrieved persons from several villages of Budgam had approached the Jammu & Kashmir High Court, contending that their land was notified to be acquired under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act in the year 2017, and that these proceedings have “lapsed” due to the efflux of time as per section 11B of the erstwhile state’s, “J&K Land Acquisition Act 1934 samvat 1990”.

Since then, the petitioners have been seeking judicial intervention for issuance of a fresh notification under Right to Fair Compensation law which has been extended to J&K post abrogation of the special status.

The petitioners have argued that neither was possession of the land taken from them, nor were they paid any compensation as a result of an award or under Section 17 of the J&K Land Acquisition Act. The Clubbed matters are the petitions filed by Ab Salam Bhat v/s JK Govt, Ali Mohammad Akhoon v/s JK Govt, Ghulam Ahmad Paul v/s JK Govt and several others.

Talking to Kashmir Observer, RTI activist, Raja Muzaffar Bhat said that in case of IUST land acquisition, the land owners were able to get justice because DC Pulwama had filed objections on time.

“But in the case of Srinagar Ring Road, the land owners are suffering because even after three years, DC Budgam hasn’t filed objections.” Bhat said.

There are three different acts for the Land acquisition including Central Land Acquisition Act, 1894 which in 2013 was amended and renamed as Right to Fair Compensation Act, 2013 and J&K Land Acquisition Act, 1934 Samvat 1990.

As per the J&K Land acquisition act, the Government is entitled to acquire land, pay compensation and complete award proceedings within 2 years from the issuance of the notification.

But, in the Srinagar Ring Road case, for Budgam district the notification was issued in 2017 and by July-August 2019, the Government was supposed to complete the proceedings which it failed to do and the whole case became null & void.

Notably, land owners, whose land was to be acquired by Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora, for expansion of its campus, got a great relief from the division bench of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court in October this year as the court held that applying J&K’s repealed land acquisition act for payment of compensation was invalid and illegal as central act has already been extended to J&K post Article- 370 abrogation.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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