THE Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s observation that government properties were being illegally occupied by political persons even when they were no longer holding any office is a pointer to a malaise that runs deep not only in the new Union Territory, but indeed through the length and breadth of the country. With arrears pending by way of unpaid rent, along with electricity and water charges, what is of note is that the allotments in the erstwhile state were made even to lawyers and other persons not entitled to the privilege. Earlier, the misuse of the Roshni Act (repealed in 2018), that led to illegal occupation of land, had created a flutter. With those in possession of the properties defaulting on payment, it only adds to the burden on the state exchequer unless methods are found to recover the money from them.
It has been a tradition to allot accommodation to VIPs to help in the discharge of their public duties. But reluctance to vacate the premises, despite umpteen notices, has invited court intervention even in Lutyens’ Delhi. While bungalows have been turned into memorials to honour the memory of leaders in some cases, it is important to have clear guidelines in place for eligibility and eviction, and ensure their proper implementation to check the tendency for misuse. The impression of political vendetta also needs to be dispelled by not singling out parties or leaders.
The court frowning on the allotment of bungalows to ineligible individuals is a timely reminder to not only those entrusted with the enforcement of policy, but also the beneficiaries who continue to be brazen despite being in illegal possession of government property. Their reluctance not to adhere to the law of the land needs to be called out. Providing accommodation in cities is a tough job and strict action should be taken in cases of misuse. At the same time, a way should be found to put the public assets to use in a rightful manner.