The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to ‘seal’ a re-erected unauthorised temple at Wadala and stayed its demolition until further orders. The court stated that it will pass orders only after hearing the persons responsible for re-erecting the temple.
The Court, while hearing the contempt petition, said that prima facie there was a contempt of its May 19 order by BMC and religious activities took place during the Ganesh Festival irrespective of the civic body and Police being directed to ensure no access was given to any person inside the premises and that the same was not used for religious purpose till the Covid-19 lockdown was lifted.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a contempt petition filed by one Fletcher J Patel against BMC for not implementing the HC order of May 19 in which the civic body had told the Court that the structure will not be used for religious purpose and will demolish the temple immediately after the Covid-19 lockdown was lifted.
On May 19, taking BMC’s submission on record, the Court had directed the body along with the Mumbai Police to ensure that no one had any access to the re-erected temple and also that it was not used for religious purposes.
The PIL filed by Dharavi resident Sanjay Avsare had alleged that after the BMC in 2018 demolished the unauthorised Saidham Mitra Mandal temple at Ganesh Mandir Marg in Wadala, it was re-erected by certain locals without permission and that despite having its information, the BMC did not initiate any action to demolish it.
Responding to the PIL, the BMC on May 19 had said that demolition could not be affected due to lack of necessary assistance during these ‘trying times’ and once the lockdown is lifted, appropriate action will be taken as per law.
On Tuesday, a contempt plea by Patel in the PIL filed through advocate Balkrishna G Tangsali alleged that the temple was used for religious purposes during Ganesh Utsav and not yet demolished despite the court order and easing of lockdown restrictions.
BMC’s lawyer said that after inquiry, it found that the Ganpati festival was celebrated at the site and it would tender its apology and demolish the structure within two days.
After hearing submissions, the Court said, “Prima facie, there has been a contempt of May 19 order and religious activities continued irrespective of the order.”
The bench asked the BMC to not demolish the temple until further orders and immediately seal the temple and inform it about the persons responsible for re-erecting it, adding that it will pass the orders pertaining to demolition after hearing them.
Seeking an affidavit with an apology from BMC, the Court posted further hearing of the matter to September 29.
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