The Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court dismissed the petitions filed by migrant employees who are under unauthorised occupation of new residential quarters at Transit camp Vessu, directing the authorities to evict them by using force as may be required to accomplish violence-free eviction, if they don't vacate in one week.
The bench headed by Justice Sanjeev Kumar also directed SHO concerned to register FIR and investigate the matter as had been communicated by the Tehsildar Relief and Rehabilitation (M), Srinagar. Moreover, the employers of the unauthorised occupants were left free by the court to initiate disciplinary proceedings against petitioners for having committed misconduct.
The Court was dealing with a batch of petitions filed by migrant employees who had sought indulgence of the court to pave way for their allotment of accommodation in newly erected quarters for migrant employees.
These employees despite already having been provided prefabricated accommodation at Vessu Transit camp are purported to have occupied the newly constructed quarters complaining their previous accommodation does not have basic facilities.
The other set of employees who opposed unauthorised take over of newly constructed quarters are the migrant employees who are living at different places on rent. Both the categories are appointed under Prime Minister's Employment Package.
Some of the petitions were also directed against the communication of Tehsildar Relief & Rehabilitation (Migrants), Srinagar wherein the Tehsildar had directed SHO Qazigund, to register FIR against the petitioners for having entered upon and occupied the under construction quarters at Migrant Colony, Vessu, illegally.
Petitioners had also sought direction to the respondents to adopt a reasonable criteria for allotment of accommodation to the migrant employees appointed under Prime Minister's Special Package for rehabilitation and return of the migrants to the Valley.
The respondents urged that petitioners have already been provided with proper accommodation and cannot be held entitled to another accommodation, which is meant for similarly placed migrant employees living in rented accommodations.
Court noted that the illegal takeover of newly erected quarters has happened because the petitioners apprehended that new accommodation would be allotted to those migrant employees who are living in rented accommodation and such employees would be better placed than them.
Deliberating upon the issue the court held: "the writ jurisdiction vested in this court under article 226 of the constitution is an equitable jurisdiction and this court shall refuse to exercise such jurisdiction in favour of those who take law into their own hands...entertaining these petitions and granting relief prayed for would be nothing short of promoting lawlessness."
It said that if the Petitioners are dissatisfied with the accommodation allotted to them, they should have challenged the order that lays down criteria for allotment of new accommodation instead of being under the impression that "they are law unto themselves and being migrants are permitted to violate law and occupy government property..."
Court also expressed astonishment at the guts of the petitioners who dared to enter quarters without allotment, while being in regular government service.
"Such lawlessness, if permitted by Courts, will lead to chaos in the society which, in turn, would put the rule of law in peril. It is, thus necessary for the police power of the State to come heavily on those for whom the breach of law is like playing with a toy. They think that they will commit the offence of criminal trespass and get away with it by coining excuses like the poor conditions of their prefab accommodation," the court order reads.
The court went on to hold that petitioners deserve no lenience, in view of their audacity to approach the court, despite having committed criminal trespass while being in public service. Court said the authorities were correct in seeking registration of FIR and initiating disciplinary proceedings against the petitioners.
Public servant involved in criminal trespassing in the Govt. property will not only attract criminal law but also disciplinary action action, the court noted.
One of the petitions raised the issue of infirmities in the 2021 allotment order alleging multiple allotments have been made to single families. The court in this, directed authorities to revisit the impugned order and weed out infirmities and illegalities, if any.
Case Title : Vessu Welfare Committee and ors. v Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner and ors
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (JKL) 58