The Supreme Court of India comprising a bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta, on 3rd May 2018, has asked the Mata Shri Vaishno Devi Shrine Board to look into the matter of rehabilitation of the Mule owners dispassionately and in a humanitarian manner since the Mule owners have been carrying pilgrims to the Shrine on a daily basis for several years.
The rehabilitation plan which has been prepared by the State of Jammu and Kashmir was discussed by the cabinet for consideration and approval. It was during the discussion of the cabinet that it was brought to its notice that the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board declined to part with any funds for the rehabilitation of the Mule owners on the ground that a new track is inaugurated and they do not require their services as it is supposed to be motorable. However, the Supreme Court did not comment on whether the new track should be motorable or not, as it is mentioned in the order dated 13.11.2017 passed by the National Green Tribunal.
The Supreme Court further asked the sub-committee to invite the representatives of the Shrine Board as well as the representatives of the Mule Owners and Gauri Maulekhi, Respondent No. 1.
The Supreme Court further observed that asking the Shrine Board to consider the rehabilitation of the Mule owners doesn’t mean that the State Government has no responsibility to rehabilitate the Mule owners.
The case is next listed on 1st August 2018.
The order is reproduced below: