The murder of an officer on official duty during compliance of Supreme Court orders at Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, allegedly by a guest house owner, has irked the Supreme Court deeply and the court has expressed its annoyance over the matter of non-implementation of the law by the state authorities.
“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. You have to ensure rule of law and implementation of law related to unauthorised constructions,” the Bench told the counsel appearing for the State.
Strongly pulling up the Himachal government authorities for failure to ensure safety of officers implementing its orders, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state government to file an affidavit by May 9, giving the detailed progress in investigation into the murder of a woman official who was allegedly shot dead by a guest house owner during a court-ordered demolition drive in Kasauli on Tuesday.
She was doing her duty with calm and honesty to comply with the orders of the Supreme Court. The top court, on April 17, had ordered the Himachal Pradesh state government to demolish unauthorisedly raised structures in several hotels and guest houses in Kasauli and Dharampur areas of Solan district. Four teams of the officials for the purpose were constituted and Shail Bala Sharma, an Assistant Town Planning Officer, was heading one such team. After a short hot argument with the lady officer on Tuesday, Vijay Singh, the owner of Narayani Guest House at Kasauli allegedly shot her dead and succeeded in fleeing from the scene despite the presence of the police.
A double bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, pulling up the state government, on Thursday, has sought the status of probe into the killing of the Assistant Town Planning Officer during a court-ordered anti-encroachment drive and directed the state government to ensure the safety of the officials conducting the drive. The Bench headed by the Justice Madan B Lokur, had, on Tuesday, taken cognisance of the murder of Asssistant Town Planning Officer Shail Bala.
The latest information reveals that the absconder Vijay Singh has been arrested by the police on Thursday. The police had announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for the informers giving a clue of the person who killed the officer.
Why the Kasauli, a tourist place liked for its peaceful winds and old heritage buildings, have suddenly turned into a tornado of murder? This planned or unplanned murder raises some questions. Despite the presence of heavy police force, how the alleged murderer stopped the officer to do her official duty? How did he dare to fire the shots resulting in the death of the lady officer? And how he succeeded in fleeing easily after the murder? What for the police was deployed?
Raising the question on the role of police, the bench asked on Wednesday, “What were they doing? Watching her get killed? We might stop passing any orders if you are going to kill people.”
But the most unresolved question is – Why the evil was not dipped in the bud? How the hoteliers encroached and raised the illegal constructions by defying the set norms? Why the officials responsible for having an eagle eye on the illegal constructions ignored the defiance? The whole scene shows that the officials during the encroachment era had misutilised their official capacity with some favour or fervour. Why they let the clippers of law loose? Now the honest officer has to sacrifice her life for the laxity and the inactiveness of the corrupt nexus.
Inquiries will be made and the reports shall be submitted to the higher upstate authorities, but will all the other officials responsible for letting the evil-bud to blossom be brought in the net? Otherwise, each and everyone will dare to challenge the rule of the law. Fear of Law should always be there to make the society fearless.
By Jag Mohan Thaken