JAMMU, Jul 20 (JNF): Intervening directly, High Court today formed a two member committee headed by Ex-Advocate General and Senior Advocate Baldev Singh Salathia to come up with a detailed report on how to preserve Mubarak Mandi heritage complex.
The committee includes Deputy Director from the Department of Archives, Archeology and Museums, Jammu. Besides, Court has authorised Salathia to choose any member of the Legal fraternity who may be interested to assist him. The committee has been assigned the task of even coming up with a report
wherein measures have to be suggested for improving security that may be required to effectively manage and avoid the theft or removal of valuable art and artifacts.
These directions were passed by High Court in a Public Interest Litigation filed Shah Mohammad Choudhary. He has highlighted the importance of preserving art, museum and archives in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In particular, the petitioner points out that one of the heritage buildings, Mubarak Mandi Complex which housed the old Secretariat of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and High Court, is in dilapidated condition. The building has been declared unsafe long ago.
Many of the administrative offices have shifted. However, the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museum has not taken proper steps to restore the heritage building. Immediate action is required and hence the Public Interest Litigation to save the heritage building.
Division Bench of State High Court Comprising First Puisine Judge Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice BS Walia after hearing Adv SM Choudhary appearing for the PIL whereas AAG Ajay Sharma and Deputy AG PS Chandel appearing for the state, appointed appoint a Committee headed by B. S. Salathia, Senior Advocate of this Court and the Deputy Director, Department of Archives, Archeology and Museums, Jammu to submit a preliminary report as to how the heritage building and the objects should be preserved and may suggest all remedial measures.
While passing directions, Division Bench observed that matter is that this heritage building contains precious collection of Dogra Art and miniatures, manuscript of various era, coins, jewellery, portraits, oil paintings etc. In all the objects number around 7320 and a reference library having 2600 books is also there. It is further averred that in the adjoining building, the old records of the Board of Judicial Advisors, the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir when it was functioning at that building are still housed in the said premises and that also needs to be preserved.
Division Bench further observed that these art collections at the Dogra Art Museum and the Court records are of great value and those need to be preserved and protected, as is evident from reply to the RTI application which says that except basic preservation method like using of Napthlene balls and anti termite treatment, the heritage museum like all other old building is suffering from insufficient staff, lack of proper maintenance and funds.
This is evident from the statement made by Deputy Director in his RTI reply where he stated that rain water enters the heritage Building during the rainy season. He also state that they are working in an unsafe building. It is a matter of serious concern. Division Bench further observed that the Public Interest Petition interalia focuses on two issues namely preservation of the Art Museum and the Heritage building. It seeks to safeguard old record of the Courts at various levels.
The senior Advocates of this Court like Sh. D. C. Raina, Sh. B. S. Salathia and few others stated in unison that the Court related old and memorable records should be secured, preserved and may also be kept in the present High Court Museum. They volunteered to assist the Court in any manner for safeguarding the heritage building and the objects contained therein.
DB also directed Registry to take photocopy of the petition and its annexure and supply it to the respondents’ counsel as well as to B. S. Salathia, Senior Advocate and the Deputy Director, along with copy of this order within this week so as to enable them to submit a preliminary report in the week commencing August 22, 2016.