Mumbai: Taking note of the “improving situation” of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bombay High Court has said that it was not inclined to extend stay on demolition of illegal structures and eviction of tenants of such structures beyond October 8.
A full bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and justices Amjad Sayed, SS Shinde and Prasanna Varale had taken up a suo moto (on its own) PIL last year and stayed demolitions and evictions after nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 brought everything to a standstill including the functioning of courts.
The HC observed: “Having taken stock of the situation as on date, we consider it fit and proper to extend the interim orders till October 8, 2021. It is, however, made clear that if the improving situation arising out of the pandemic continues even on that date, in all likelihood, the interim orders will be vacated on October 8. It is only if the situation deteriorates that we may consider further extension beyond October 8.”
The HC has requested that the order may be widely circulated by media so that those affected by it would approach the appropriate court/ authority for appropriate remedy.
During the hearing on Friday, the court asked Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni whether the Maharashtra government had taken a decision regarding the continuation of the lockdown.
Kumbhakoni informed the HC that the government would take a decision on the continuation of lockdown after a week taking into the account prevailing situation then. “Government has not taken any decision yet, but reports show an encouraging picture. But experts have asked to monitor 10 days after the last day of Ganesh Visarjan which will show the trend of COVID-19 pattern,” said Kumbhakoni adding that there was a lot of migration during the festival.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar, representing the Advocates’ Association of Western India, requested that the stay order be continued for three weeks instead of two weeks since many lawyers were just vaccinated. “There are over 2,000 orders of demolition and evictions. With the court vacating the stay, there will be a huge rush to the courts for individual protection,” said Warunjikar.
To this the chief justice said: “Let the rush begin. Our orders are well-intentioned to protect the general public, but some take advantage of this. All my officers are up to the task. We will be assessing the situation on October 8 again.
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