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Explain gross delay in demolishing illegal shrines: Bombay High Court to Maharashtra government

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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today sought an explanation from the Maharashtra government over the “gross delay” in demolishing illegal shrines in the state. The government had to raze all unauthorised shrines, built after September 29, 2009, by December 2017. A division bench of Justices A S Oka and M S Sonak was hearing a public interest litigation filed by a city-based NGO, Janhit Manch, seeking action against illegal shrines in the state.

The court had, earlier, directed the government to submit a time-bound schedule for demolition of such shrines. In response, the state government had issued a government resolution (GR) in November 2015 stating that it had set up committees to find out which shrines needed to be regularised and which had to be demolished. The government had said it would finish the process of demolition by August 2016. It later sought extension till December 2017 to comply with the order. The same was granted by HC.

The government, earlier this month, filed a fresh application seeking extension of the December 2017 deadline. The high court, however, got irked and said it was not inclined to grant an extension. “Explain to us the reasons behind the gross delay in demolishing all the illegal shrines within the prescribed time limit. We want the government to file an affidavit on this,” Justice Oka said. The court said that if it was not satisfied with the government’s reasons, then it would initiate contempt action against the concerned officers. The court has posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.