The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday restrained editors of the local newspapers from publishing objectionable material while the court was hearing a writ petition seeking closure of unauthorised buildings in the capital city.
A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice M.M. Kumar and Ali Mohammad Magray, said the court would take “necessary action as may be warranted under law” if anybody indulged in such an act in future.
With the people at large clamouring that hundreds of unauthorised private and commercial properties, including hotels and shopping malls, had come up in total violation of the Master Plan in many residential areas of the capital city, the writ petition has led to closure of scores of such properties in the last couple of weeks. It was pointed out by the petitioner, as well as media, that a government survey in 2010 had identified 2,500 of such unauthorised buildings in Srinagar.
There have been allegations that the owners of such properties have greased the palms of the government functionaries, including politicians and officials of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Srinagar Development Authority and Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, to ensure that nobody disturbed these constructions. People have been seeking action against the officials in the three particular departments who have permitted these constructions allegedly for pecuniary considerations.
While the authorities have begun sealing a number of the identified properties, organisations of local traders and a civil society group have published a paid advertisement captioned “Let the people know” in an English language daily.
Senior advocate Riyaz Ahmad Jan, who functions as amicus curiae, drew the Bench’s attention towards the advertisement and contended that the act of publication as well as the material therein were objectionable and tantamount to interference with the court proceedings.
The Bench agreed with Mr. Jan that the advertisement was “totally objectionable and tantamount to instigating the general public on wrong facts and figures given therein.”
It warned the sponsors — Kashmir Economic Alliance, Belli Bhavan Durganag, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation and Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association — as also the editors against publishing such material.