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Court seals top cop’s Dal Lake house

Srinagar, March 5: In a landmark judgment, Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered attachment of the official residence of the state director-general of police being constructed on the banks of the Dal Lake.

A division bench of Justices Nisar Ahmad Kakroo and Pramod Kohli appointed the home commissioner receiver of the property. The commissioner has been asked to be present in the court tomorrow with relevant records.

The court had earlier issued contempt notices to DGP Ashok Suri and Madan Lal, the additional director-general in charge of the police housing colony, asking them to be present personally in the court tomorrow.

The high court, in an earlier order, had banned all construction activity in the demarcated green belt around the Dal Lake following a public interest litigation filed by one Syed Tahir Geelani last year. The lake has been gradually reduced to a foul-smelling pool because of encroachments and discharge of sewage and industrial waste into it.

However, the previous National Conference government of Farooq Abdullah started work on a complex which would house the residence and office of the chief minister and the DGP.

The high court took cognisance of the construction activity in the green belt. A committee, comprising the Srinagar district magistrate, the registrar of the high court and a retired sessions court judge, was formed to inspect the site and report to the court.

The committee members, after visiting the site, reported that the security guards had refused them entry inside the area where the complex for the DGP was being constructed because “they had orders from higher officials not to allow anyone inside”. The members also said they found construction work going on in full swing at the complex. The court took exception to the harassment of the committee members by the guards and took note that its directive had been disobeyed.

“We judges owe accountability to the society. What answer do we have to those who have been rendered homeless during (the) recent demolition drive against unauthorised constructions when the high-ups of the state are themselves involved in such unauthorised constructions,” the division bench said.

The court then issued the contempt notices to the DGP and the additional DGP and asked the home commissioner to take possession of the DGP’s official residence.

By the time the new government led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed ordered immediate stoppage of work at the site, Rs 8 crore had already been spent on the complex.

The disclosure that the construction work on the DGP’s residence was continuing despite the directives of the high court had come as an embarrassment for the state government.

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