The Supreme Court today came down hard on the Himachal Pradesh government for non-implementation of the demolition law in true spirit, leading to the killing of a lady officer in Kasauli who was supervising a demolition drive. The court said that the ‘unfortunate death’ was the result of ‘non-implementation of the law’ and asked the state government to apprise it about the implementation of its order last month regarding the demolition of unauthorised construction at 13 hotels in the state.
The SC bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta made this observation while seeking the status of the investigation in the murder case of Assistant Town and Country Planner Shail Bala Sharma. The lady officer was shot dead on May 1 when she had gone to supervise the demolition drive at Narayani Guest House in Kasauli. She was allegedly shot dead by the guest house owner Vijay Singh, who is now on the run.
The top court had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident and asked that the matter be listed for hearing today. At the hearing today, court asked the state government what steps it has taken so far to stop illegal construction in the state and granted time till May 9 to file its affidavit.
“The death is not a result of the court’s order. It is a result of the non-implementation of the law. The incident is very unfortunate,” the top court said. The court also told the government that it is duty of the state administration to ensure implementation of rules regarding unauthorised construction.
The demolition drive in Kasauli was carried out at the behest of the top court. The court had in April ordered the state government to demolish illegal constructions in several hotels and guest houses in Kasauli and Dharampur areas of Solan. The court had taken suo motu cognizance of the murder of Sharma on Wednesday.
In its order last month, the apex court noted that several hotels in the state were granted license to construct two-storey buildings but they violated the law and carried out construction up to to six floors. The Supreme Court had ordered the demolition of illegal constructions on pleas filed by owners of hotels and resorts who had contested the NGT’s May 2017 order to demolish illegal portions that were raising environment and natural resources.
Meanwhile, the Himachal Pradesh government told the Supreme Court that it will give Rs 5 lakh compensation to the officer’s family.