In a long-standing feud between Payal Abdullah, the estranged wife of former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, and the Central government regarding the apparent illegal occupation of the government premises by her and her two sons despite repeated communications made to her to vacate the premise, the Delhi High Court has settled it by dismissing her petition and upholding the decision of the single judge that came in August 2016.
The division bench comprising of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice V Kameshwar Rao rejected Payal Abdullah’s appeal against the decision of the single judge of the Delhi High Court, wherein she pleaded that she be allowed to continue residing at the bungalow provided to Omar Abdullah when he was the Chief Minister of J&K at Akbar Road, being Z and Z plus protectees, or else be shifted to an accommodation with similar security arrangements as she was currently enjoying. She claimed that she faced imminent threats and was entitled to the special protection. Further, she stated three central SPG protectees - KPS Gill, MS Bitta and Subramanian Swamy – were allotted government accommodation in view of a high level of threat faced by them, and the government was discriminating against her.
The Central government’s stand was that Omar Abdullah himself had relinquished the property when he stepped down from his office in 2015 and that Payal Abdullah was occupying the property illegally, which now has to be suitably vacated for the new Chief Minister of J&K.
The security provided to them flowed through Omar Abdullah, who had himself written to the Ministry that since he had vacated the property, the government was free to do whatever was necessary with it.
Payal Abdullah and her sons did not have any individual claim over the property.
It was reiterated that even though Payal and her sons are admittedly Z and Z plus protectees, no government accommodation can be allotted to any person on security considerations except to SPG protectee.
After hearing the contentions, the bench was of the opinion that the case of Payal Abdullah and her sons cannot draw parallel with the case of KPS Gill, MS Bitta and Subramanian Swamy as they faced an imminent threat from Kashmiri militants and had to be transferred out of the state, but she was not facing any such grave threat, as per the threat assessment of Payal and her sons carried out by the Ministry and reviewed by the Central Security Agency (secret document not annexed with the affidavit but was however, perused by the single judge in the case).
Further, the bench also held that “when Mr. Omar Abdullah himself has shifted to a private accommodation, there is no reason why the appellants can be treated differently”.
Read the Judgment here.