The Supreme Court on Wednesday took cognizance on its own of the firing incident in Kasauli where a woman government official was shot dead allegedly by a hotel owner after she had gone to seal an unauthorised construction in his property on apex court’s direction.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta termed the incident as extremely serious and noted that government officials had gone there to comply with the court’s direction to seal unauthorised constructions.
Assistant Town and Country Planner Shailbala Sharma had yesterday gone to seal unauthorised constructions in Kasauli’s Narayani Guest House where its owner Vijay Singh allegedly shot at her. She later succumbed to injuries.
“We might stop passing any orders if you are going to kill people,” the bench observed after the issue was mentioned before it.
The bench, while taking suo motu cognizance of the incident, said the matter be placed before Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra for assigning it before an appropriate bench tomorrow.
The apex court also questioned as to what the police team, which had accompanied government officials during the sealing drive was doing when the hotel owner allegedly shot at the woman.
The counsel representing Himachal Pradesh informed the bench that the accused had fled from the spot after opening fire at government officials and besides the deceased, an official of the Public Works Department was also injured in the incident.
The officials were allegedly attacked while they were carrying out a Supreme Court mandated drive to demolish illegal structures in 13 hotels in Solan district.
The Supreme Court had on April 17 directed the state government to demolish unauthorised structures in 13 hotels in Kasauli and Dharampur areas of Solan, and four teams were constituted for this purpose.
The deceased was heading one team and hotel owners allegedly attempted to intimidate it to stop the demolition drive, the police had said yesterday.
The apex court had ordered demolition of illegal constructions at several hotels and resorts in the picturesque Himachal Pradesh town of Kasauli, saying the life of people cannot be endangered for making money.
The top court had observed that the illegal constructions had put the entire city in danger, causing landslides, and ordered the demolition of such constructions.
The bench had said that some hotels and resorts were supposed to construct only two-storeyed buildings but six-storeyed ones existed there.
The apex court had directed demolishing illegal constructions after owners of several hotels, resorts and guest houses in Kasauli had approached the apex court challenging the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order to demolish or close down several such establishments which were extended illegally without approvals.
The NGT, in its order, had directed demolition of temporary structures of several hotels including Narayani Guest House, Bird’s View Resort, Hotel Pine View, Hotel Neelgiri, Hotel Divshikha and AAA Guest House.
It had also imposed hefty fines on many of them for causing irretrievable damage to the ecology, polluting the environment and raising unauthorised constructions. The NGT order had come on a plea by an NGO, Society for Preservation of Kasauli and its Environs (SPOKE).
(With inputs from PTI)