Kasauli murder case: Supreme Court tells Himachal Pradesh to file status report, asks state govt to ensure rule of law
The Supreme Court said on Thursday that the murder of a woman officer in Kasauli was because of the non-implementation of the state law prohibiting unauthorised construction
New Delhi: The Supreme Court said on Thursday that the murder of a woman officer in Kasauli, when she was supervising the demolition of unauthorised construction in hotels and resorts, was because of the non-implementation of the state law prohibiting unauthorised constructions.
Directing Himachal Pradesh to file a status report on its investigation into the killing of Shail Bala Sharma — woman Assistant Town Planner — the bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta said that the unfortunate incident took place not because of its orders to demolish unauthorised structures but non-implementation of the law prohibiting illegal construction.
Telling the state counsel that the death of the woman officer was not because she was enforcing the top court's order but the failure of the government in not acting in time and enforcing the law prohibiting illegal construction, the court said: "You have to ensure rule of law and implementation of law related to unauthorised constructions."
The top court also directed the Himachal Pradesh government to apprise it of the steps taken by it to stop illegal construction in the state and to prevent the "unfortunate incident".
Postings the matter for further hearing on 9 May, the court asked the state to file an affidavit giving the details sought by it.
The top court had on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance of the killing and described the incident as "extremely serious".
Sharma who had gone to Kasauli to supervise the demolition of unauthorised constructions at 13 hotels and resorts as ordered by the top court was shot dead on 1 May by Vijay Singh — owner of Narayani Guest House in Dharampur area. A labourer was also injured.
The court had pulled up the Himachal Pradesh government for not providing adequate security to the officials carrying out the demolitions as it termed as "serious" that the accused killed the official in daylight and police could not catch him.
On 17 April, Justice Lokur and Justice Gupta directed the demolition of unauthorised constructions in Kasauli built in violation of sanctioned plans.
It noted that some hotels and resorts were supposed to construct only two-storeyed buildings but built six-storeyed buildings.
The court order of demolition had came on pleas filed by the owners challenging a National Green Tribunal 30 May, 2017 order which had directed the demolition of unauthorised portions of the hotels affecting the environment, ecology and natural resources.
The hotels included Hotel Pine View, Narayani Guest House, Bird's View Resort, Hotel Neelgiri, Hotel Divshikha and Guest House.
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The top court also trashed the plea seeking media to be restrained from reporting observations of judicial proceedings, saying that it will be a retrograde act