Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said it failed to understand why local civil courts granted injunction orders on demolition of illegal private structures along the Alibaug beachfront in Raigad district when it was clear that the properties were illegal.
A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre also pulled up the Maharashtra government for dragging its feet in demolishing those structures.
The court has been hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) since 2009, which alleges that several "wealthy persons" have constructed bungalows and private structures along the beaches in Alibaug in violation of the state's and the coastal zone authority's norms.
Such structures include a beachside bungalow owned by fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi. The bungalow was demolished by the local authorities following the high court's previous orders.
The court was informed last month that several structures were yet to be demolished because of injunction orders passed by lower courts, protecting the properties.
"How have the judges (of the lower courts) granted injunction and issued status quo orders when the owner of the property does not even have valid permissions. We fail to understand this. The lower courts ought not to have granted such injunction orders," Chief Justice Nandrajog said.
The bench further noted that the state government was only delaying the process by issuing notices to the property owners concerned.
"When demolition orders have been issued, what is the point of issuing notices at this stage? Have them (structures) demolished. Why are you (government) giving them a protective cover?," the court asked.
It pointed out that the government had not taken any action against the illegal bungalows but had demolished a temporary shack in the area.
"It seems that the government has only demolished some poor man's shack, which he must have been using to earn a livelihood. A poor man builds an illegal structure to stay out of need but these are plush bungalows," Chief Justice Nandrajog said.
When the court was informed that Nirav Modi's bungalow was demolished, Chief Justice Nandrajog said, "Nirav Modi does not want to come back to India, so you (government) went and demolished his structure first."
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on August 29. On the previous hearing, the court was informed that a total of 159 properties were served demolition notices by the Alibaug district authorities as they violated construction and coastal zone norms.
Of these, 24 structures have already been demolished, while 111 properties have obtained orders requiring status quo to be maintained.