Take action against officials responsible for illegal constructions: SC

New Delhi, May 9 (PTI) The Supreme Court today suggested that the Himachal Pradesh government should take action against those officials who were posted in Kasauli when illegal constructions came up there and sought their names and designations.

The apex court also asked the state what action it has taken against those officials who were responsible for the unauthorised constructions to come up in the Kasauli town.

“Unless you take action and remove four-five people from service, nothing will fall in line,” a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta told the advocate general of Himachal Pradesh.

On May 1, Assistant Town and Country Planner Shail Bala Sharma had gone to supervise the demolition of unauthorised construction at Kasauli’s Narayani Guest House where its owner Vijay Singh had allegedly shot at her.

Sharma had later succumbed to injuries, while another government official accompanying her had sustained serious injuries. The accused was later arrested.

During the hearing today, the advocate general placed a status report and said the demolition of unauthorsied constructions in several hotels at Kasauli was going on in full swing as per the apex court’s order and a committee of officers of the Public Works Department (PWD) has been formed to deal with difficulties that have cropped up during the demolition drive.

“You have said (in the report) that demolition work was under process. When will it be completed? We have said that the work be completed within 15 days,” the bench asked.

The counsel said that since the demolition was going on in portion of buildings having unauthorised constructions, it would take some time.

The bench also asked him whether the authorities were permitting tourists to stay in 11 other hotels and guest houses where demolition drive would go on later.

The advocate general, while contending that tourists were not allowed to stay in such hotels, said he would take further instruction on the issue.

The bench asked the state to apprise it about the steps it proposed to take to remove the debris of the demolished unauthorised structures in these hotels, saying these could create environmental hazards.

Senior advocate P S Patwalia, assisting the court as an amicus curiae, said the Himachal Pradesh High Court was dealing with issue related to illegal constructions in places like Dharamshala, Mcleodganj and Kasol in the state.

The advocate general also referred to the amendement made in the Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning Rules which deals with issues of unauthorised constructions.

He said hotel owner Vijay Singh, who has already been arrrested on charges of killing the woman officer, had taken loans for construction of the guest house and further probe was going on.

The bench, while making it clear that it did not want wastage of money, asked the state to inform it about whether they have framed any guidelines so that unauthorised construction would not come up in future. It asked the state to file a status report on the questions raised by it and posted it for hearing in the first week of August.

The bench also made it clear that the high court would continue hearing the pending matter related to illegal constructions in several parts of the state.

The apex court had earlier termed as very unfortunate the killing of the woman officer and had said that the incident had happened due to the “non-implementation” of law.

It had on April 17 asked the state to demolish unauthorised structures in 13 hotels and guest houses in Kasauli and Dharampur areas of Solan.

Source: PTI