SC raps HP govt, says Kasauli killing due to non-implementation of law

SC raps HP govt, says Kasauli killing due to non-implementation of law

The Supreme Court today castigated the Himachal Pradesh government saying said it cannot "encourage" people who break the law, while observing that the "very unfortunate" killing of a woman officer allegedly by a Kasauli hotel owner was due to the the "non-implementation" of law.

The apex court pulled up the Himachal Pradesh government and said it cannot "encourage" people who break the law and carry out illegal constructions while asking it to ensure implementation of the law on illegal constructions.

Terming the Kasauli incident as a "huge problem" for the future, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked the state government to apprise it about the status of probe in the case and the steps taken to ensure that no unauthorised constructions were carried out in the entire state.

"Unless you (state) take the matter seriously and believe in the rule of law, you cannot encourage people who break the law. The death is not a result of the court's order. It is a result of non-implemention of the law. The incident is very unfortunate. You have to ensure rule of law and implementation of law on unauthorised constructions," the bench observed.

Assistant Town and Country Planner Shail Bala Sharma had on May 1 gone to supervise the demolition of unauthorised construction at Kasauli's Narayani Guest House where its owner Vijay Singh had allegedly shot at her. She later succumbed to injuries, while another government official accompanying her had sustained serious injuries.

During the hearing, the bench also directed the counsel representing Himachal Pradesh to inform it about the status of implementation of the court's order on demolition of unauthorised constructions in 13 hotels at Kasauli.

It also asked the advocate to apprise it about the steps that have been taken or are proposed to be taken regarding acting against those who have made illegal constructions in other parts of the state as well.

The apex court asked the state to file an affidavit or a status report giving these details and posted the matter for further hearing on May 9.

"What has been brought to our notice is that there were illegal constructions in Kasauli. We do not know if illegal constructions are going on in other places in the state. If people will start taking law in their own hands and say we will construct illegally and when the people will come to seal and close it on court's order, we will shoot them dead, then who will go to seal it," the bench said.

"It is a huge problem for the future. What are you doing to ensure that there are no illegal constructions? You might have illegal constructions in places like Manali. What has happened in the past is unfortunate but you have to see the future also. You have to implement the law," the bench said.

It also observed that "newspaper reports say he (accused) was working in the electricity department. From where did he get the money to have this property? There may be a Prevention of Corruption Act case also. Look at it and find it out".

The state's counsel, while assuring the court that they would look into this aspect, said four teams were set up to carry out demolition drive as per the court's order and the team, of which the deceased was also a part, had 14 police officials. The bench was also informed that the accused had taken the property in his mother's name.

The lawyer said the team had first gone to Shivalik hotel and when the police officials and other team members were having lunch, Sharma and two other officers went to the nearby Narayani Guest House.

"When gun shots were heard, the police officials rushed to the spot and found that the officer was lying there in a pool of blood. She was rushed to the hospital," he said, adding the policemen had gone to catch the accused but he fled in the dense forest adjoining the road.

"Are you planning to give compensation to the family (of the victim)," the bench asked.

To this, the counsel said Rs five lakh compensation was announced for the family of the deceased while the injured officer would also be compensated.

"How are you going to assure other persons of the department that this thing will not be repeated and there will be no violence," the bench then asked.

The counsel said full security has been provided to the officials and they would beef it up and an enquiry commission has also been constituted after the incident.

"Out of 13 hotels, how many have been demolished," the court asked the counsel who said the demolition work was going on as per court's order after the firing incident also.

The bench asked the counsel as to whether Narayani Guest House and the spot where the incident took place has been cordoned off or not.

"It is a scene of crime. You have to cordon off the area so that people cannot go there," the bench asked after which the lawyer said the guest house has been closed.

The state also said that Rs one lakh reward has been announced on his arrest and a divisional commissioner has been appointed as an enquiry officer who would also suggest future course of action.

The apex court, which had taken cognisance on its own on the firing incident, had on April 17 asked the state to demolish unauthorised structures in 13 hotels and guest houses in Kasauli and Dharampur areas of Solan.