HC directs removal of remaining road-side shrines in 24 hrs

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 31 Aug 2018 09:27:17


Staff Reporter,

Seeks details of objectors who deposited and did not deposit the money

No decision on NMC’s application to process the application seeking regularisation of temple

Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Thursday directed civic agencies to remove religious structures constructed on roadside or on footpath by Friday and also asked the agencies to take action against repeated encroachers. Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) informed that only 12 structures on road and footpath are to be informed after which the High Court directed immediate removal of these shrines and action against those opposing removal.

The NMC and NIT had promised to remove at least five such illegal structures everyday and the special drive was on relentlessly, despite massive public protest. In many cases, the trustees or committees managing such roadside structures have not cared to raise objection, neither have deposited the money.

The High Court also refused to provide any respite to a temple at Buty lay-out Mandir in Laxmi Nagar area and asked the residents of 21 plots to deposit Rs 10,000 each to prove bonafides since the temple is situated on the public utility land whose ownership vests with NIT.
Similarly another application moved by trustees of Nagraj Maharaj and Maa Ambe Charitable Trust to save temple in Shingada market of New Shukrawari failed to impress the High Court and the committee was directed to hand-over temple to NIT. The High Court also asked president of the committee Pramila Sawarkar to remain personally present on September 1.

A division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Murlidhar Giratkar while hearing a petition filed by retired PWD employee Manohar Khorgade and Dr Gajanan Zade seeking removal of illegal religious structures in the city, directed NMC to place on record names of objectors who had deposited either Rs 50,000 or Rs 60,000 as per court’s earlier orders. The High Court also sought names and details of those who filed objections but did not deposit the money. The High Court also rejected a PIL filed by Janardan Moon of Nagari Hakka Sanrakshan Manch against demolition of religious structures and imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on him for trying to stall implementation of Supreme Court and High Court order.

During last hearings the High Court had directed the objectors opposing demolition of temples and other religious structures situated on public utility plots and open spaces to deposit Rs 60,000 each with registry to prove their bonafides by August 21. The NMC had received 967 objections by July 18 and of them 254 had deposited Rs 50,000 while 860 fresh objections were also filed thereafter. In all 365 individuals/trusts had deposited the requisite amount with High Court registry.

The NMC general body had already passed an unanimous resolution on August 9 regularising religious structures on open spaces in layouts by amending regulation nos (2), 13.8 and 14.20 of the Development Control Regulations to remove all legal ambiguities and to protect shrines in lay-outs revered by millions, from demolition.

The NMC had started scrutiny of the objections, but looking at the huge task at hand, could not process all these objections so far as it require some time to look into claim made by each of the objector by examining veracity and legality of papers annexed along with each objection. The High Court has not explicitly stayed the demolition drive against religious structures on public utility land and open spaces within lay-outs. However, those filing intervention and objection along with valid documents claimed that they will appraise the authorities about this legal proceedings to stop demolition.

The objections filed with civic body have strongly opposed demolition of religious structures while seeking their regularisation and condonation of delay in raising the objection. The High Court had asked them to produce on record documents like sanctioned buildings plans before seeking such a concession. The NMC had also moved a civil application seeking time to decide objections filed by people managing religious shrines and claimed that around 1850 objections were received by it seeking relief against ongoing demolition drive. The High Court has posted the next hearing after two weeks.

The High Court during last hearing had directed to utilise the money deposited by objectors for betterment of destitute children lodged in Government run shelter homes and those in Orphanages and sought details from the Government Pleader about progress on this front.

Adv Firdos Mirza appeared for the petitioners. Senior Counsel C S Kaptan and Adv Sudhir Puranik (NMC), Senior Counsel Sunil Manohar and GP Sumant Deopujari (State), Adv Mukesh Samarth (NIT) represented the respondents.