The Bombay High Court on Monday allowed a petitioner to amend his public interest litigation (PIL) and add Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik and/ or his company as respondent wherein it is alleged that the MLA usurped 37,000 sq mtrs plot, reserved for burial ground, to construct multi-storey towers.
A division bench of Justices PB Varale and NR Borkar expressed displeasure after being informed that neither Sarnaik nor his company were made respondent to the PIL.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Melwyn Fernandes, parishioner of Our Lady of Mercy Church, Thane, highlighting the lack of burial space in Thane city for Christians. His advocate Sunita Banis informed the HC that when they went to physically inspect the burial ground, they found that a building was being constructed. The said plot is reserved for a burial ground for Christians.
Advocate appeared for Sarnaik and pointed out to the court that all allegations are being made against the MLA in media but nothing is mentioned in the PIL. “There are only allegations in the media. But there is nothing in the petition,” he said.
To this justice Varale questioned Banis: “How can you not add him as a respondent? If we pass any order, it is directly going to affect him.”
As per earlier court order, Fernandes amended sought to add Vaihang Group of Companies as a respondent.
To this Sarnaik’s advocate pointed out that there was no company by that name. In addition, the PIL did not raise any specific grievance against the company.
She then sought court’s permission to amend the PIL and add Sarnaik as a respondent.
The court has asked Fernandes to amend the PIL in one week and provide a copy to Sarnaik. It has also granted liberty to Sarnaik to file his reply within three weeks thereafter.
The HC has kept the PIL for hearing on November 10.
According to the PIL, the town planning department of the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) informed it that the plots were reserved for Sayunkta Smashanbhumi and Smruti Udyan vide letter dated February 12, 2016, which is referred to as the proposed modification.
After the proposed modification, the TMC was to provide 8000 sq mtrs for a Hindu crematorium, 3000 sq mtrs for the Dawoodi Bohra community, 3000 sq mtrs for Christians, 2000 sq mtrs for the Jew community, 2000 sq mtrs for Lingayat community and 4000 sq mtrs for other communities. Another 3000 sq mtrs for parking, 10,000 sq mtrs for Smruti Udyan and a buffer zone and 12 mtrs for a wide road, totaling 37,000 sq mtrs.