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My Yard is Visible From your Window.’ The citizen waited for years to open the window of his house

EditorialMy Yard is Visible From your Window.' The citizen waited for years to open the window of his house

After years of waiting, the family of Ghulam Nabi Shah in the remote village of Budgam district in Indian-administered Kashmir can open the windows of their house again. These are the windows that were closed by their neighbor Abdul Ghani Sheikh after a complaint was filed in the local court.

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Sheikh’s objection was that the windows of the second floor of the house overlook his yard and house, thereby infringing on his privacy and that snow can fall on him from the roof of the house.
In 2018, when the local court of Budgam ordered to close the windows and change the direction of the roof, Ghulam Nabi Shah appealed to the session court, but the session judge upheld the decision and repeated the order to close the windows.

In 2019, Ghulam Nabi filed an appeal in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, and after twenty hearings for five years, High Court Judge Atul Sridharan dismissed the privacy objection as unfounded and said, ‘Someone builds a house on his own land and windows in it. So, if the neighbor feels that his privacy is threatened, he should pull the curtains or raise the wall.

It is noteworthy that neither Abdul Ghani Sheikh nor his lawyer appeared for the final hearing. “Our lawyer’s mother was sick, he was not present at many hearings,” Sheikh told the BBC. The High Court gave the decision, but we did not get justice. However, the judge gave an ex parte decision which means that the objector did not attend the hearing of his own accord even though he was given notice.

Ghulam Nabi Shah from Yari Kha village in Budgam district told BBC on phone that ‘My house has been built for decades. It was a one-storey house for 15 years, I started work on the second floor, and the neighbors complained to the local court about it, after which the court ordered the roof to be turned and the walls to be closed.

Shah says that after this order, he changed the direction of the roof, however, he challenged the decision to close the windows in the Sessions Court, whereupon the previous decision was upheld and the windows were ordered to remain closed.

He says that he changed the direction of the roof at the same time ‘but how will my family live without windows.

On the other hand, Abdul Ghani Sheikh is not happy with this decision. ‘This is the age of the Internet. Everyone has daughters-in-law in their homes. There will be second floor windows only four feet away, is that fair?’

Both Ghulam Nabi and Abdul Ghani say that they spent a lot of money for five years. The question is why such cases are pending in the courts for decades.

Advocate Habeel Iqbal, who is an advocate in Shopian Court, says that “Millions of such cases have been pending in the courts of Kashmir for decades.” This is because there are vacancies of judges in the courts, and one judge is looking after three, three courts.
‘In such a case, these cases become victims of adjournment.’

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