J&K High Court Issues Directions to District Magistrate on deciding Property Possession Case

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On 15th September 2020, Justice Sanjeev Kumar heard the case of Ejaz Ahmad Tak vs Union Territory of J&K and others, via video-conferencing. The Court gave certain directions to the office of the District Magistrate in passing the order.

Facts of the case

The Estate Officer in the exercise of powers under Sub-Section 1 of Section 5 of the J&K Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1988 (the Act), issued a notice to the petitioner. According to the notice, the petitioner is called upon to vacate his flat at Wazarat Road, Jammu. The petitioner is an ex-Public Prosecutor of the State. He invokes the power of superintendence of this Court vested by Article 227 of the Constitution of India. He seeks the Court’s order to quash of the impugned notice issued by the respondent in his capacity as Estate Officer.

Arguments of the Petitioner

The learned counsel for the petitioner argued that the petitioner availed the statutory remedy of appeal under the Act. Despite that, due to the non-availability of the appellate authority to pass orders, he has been pushed to a stage where he can be evicted from the premises at any time. If the appeal is pending, in the meanwhile, if the petitioner is evicted, he would be deprived of his right as conferred by Section 12 of the Act. 

Court’s Analysis

The petitioner has availed of the remedy of appeal conferred by Section 12 of the Act. Further, the digital copy of the appeal has been received by the office of District Magistrate. Therefore, the same needs to be considered for passing appropriate orders on merits. Eviction of the petitioner due to the pending appeal would not be in consonance with law. It would render the petitioner remediless. There is no denying that due to COVID-19 pandemic, the District Magistrate is hard-pressed for time. Thus, may not be available to hear the appeal. However, the petitioner cannot be left remediless.

Court’s Decision

The Court disposed of the petition by providing the following directions-

  1. A copy of this order shall be transmitted online to the office of District Magistrate, Jammu.
  2. After which, the District Magistrate, at the first available opportunity, is directed to pass an interim order or take up the case for final consideration. Further, the petitioner should be given an opportunity of being heard.
  3. Till an appropriate order is passed, status quo with regard to the possession of the petitioner at Wazarat Road, Jammu shall be maintained.

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