Taking a sensitive approach in view of the coming Diwali festival, the Bombay High Court has passed a “general directive” requesting all Planning and Local Authorities to “stay their hands” on demolitions during the Diwali period, until November 20-21.
This is not the first time that the HC has taken a humanitarian approach and restrained authorities from taking coercive steps during festival period.
Last year the court had granted relief to aggrieved people apprehending demolition or vacating of residences during Ganpati festival.
The interim order was passed by a division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata while hearing a petition by retired Navy Commander Baldevsingh Bhagwansingh Bhatti against the demolition notice issued by the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA).
Specific Case: Bhatti's Challenge
Bhatti had challenged the notice dated October 31 by the PMRDA under Section 53(1) of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act, 1966, ordering demolition of his farmhouse structure at Village Kurvande in Maval Taluka of Pune district.
The plea contended that Bhatti had filed an application with the PMRDA on October 24 for regularisation of alleged unauthorised construction. Bhatti’s counsel Anil Singh submitted that the structure in question has been in existence since 1996 and such an arbitrary notice issued in “highhanded manner at the behest of persons with vested interest” was not required.
The judges said that it have to decide whether or not there are sufficient permissions for the structure.
Court's Interim Decision
“We do not see the urgency in removing such a structure,” the bench observed while temporarily restraining PMRDA from taking any action or enforcing its notice until the next date of hearing on December 1.
The court clarified that: “This is on a without prejudice and no equity basis and subject to further orders in the Writ Petition itself.”
General Directive Beyond the Case
In addition, the court also passed a general directive saying: “As a general directive, we would request all Planning and Local Authorities to stay their hands on demolitions during the Diwali period and certainly until 20th/21st November 2023. There are intervening public holidays between 12th November 2023 (Diwali) and 15th November 2023 (Bhaubeej).”
Before Ganpati festival last year, the HC had granted interim relief to slum dwellers in Chembur by restraining authorities from taking coercive action against them during the Ganpati festival.
The Hc, in 2022, had granted interim relief to hundreds of employees residing in Air India staff quarters at Kalina in suburban Mumbai to continue residing in allotted residences in view of “Ganesh festival being celebrated in state with passion”.