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Bombay HC stays demolition of huts of Muslim community within Vishalgad Fort

The Bombay High Court on Thursday stayed till March 10 the Maharashtra archaeology department’s notices sent on December 13 that directed seven people to demolish their illegal structures within Kolhapur’s Vishalgad Fort area in 30 days.

A bench of Justices Neela K Gokhale and Gautam S Patel heard the plea filed by aggrieved persons and also directed the authorities not to take ‘any coercive action’ against the seven petitioners, who claimed to have been in possession of small plots of land within the fort for the past 30-60 years. These structures belong to persons from the Muslim community.

While one of them claims to have been granted allotment for the small land in his possession since 1983, some other petitioners’ proposals for regularization are pending with the government.

The petitioners challenged the December 13, 2022, demolition notices issued under section 21 (2) of the Maharashtra Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains Act 1960. The notices stated that if not removed within 30 days, the structures would be demolished by the government without any further notice, adding that the cost would be recovered from petitioners.

The aggrieved persons approached the HC challenging the demolition notice stating that their structures were constructed prior to the fort being declared a protected monument in 1999. Hence, the relevant sections of Maharashtra Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains Act.1960 could not be applied to them. The HC has stayed the demolition till March 10.

The division bench of justice Gautam Patel and justice Neela Gokhale, while hearing the petition filed by Ayub Kagadi and six others, were informed by their advocates Pradnya Talekar and Madhavi Ayyappan about these claims.

On February 3, the Maharashtra government issues a resolution and approved Rs 1.17 crore as the demolition cost. The government also floated a tender on February 9 inviting bids to undertake the demolitions.

The petitioners sought a direction to quash and set aside the government orders, tender notice and the resolution, as well as regularisation of their “long-standing” possessions.

Illegal encroachment on temple land, public land and culturally significant sites is an extensive issue across the country. However, each time authorities work up the will to tackle this issue and actually implement the law, we find that there are elements in the NGO-activist ecosystem that come to aid of encroachers. Such elements are almost always entertained by our judiciary, and any hopes that citizens have of speedy dispensation of justice gets lost in the legal quagmire.

Another thing which reflects how attitudes of higher judiciary are out of kilter with national sentiments is how they consistently refuse to rename the Bombay High Court, Calcutta High Court, Madras High Court, Allahabad High Court despite the official names of those state capitals/cities having changed long back!

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  1. Historically, Vishalgad Fort played a crucial role in the Maratha Empire’s expansion and consolidation during the 17th century. Constructed in the 16th century by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha Empire, the fort served as a strategic stronghold against the rival Bijapur Sultanate. Its location atop a hill provided a commanding view of the surrounding landscape, allowing for effective surveillance and defense.

  2. Manniya nyayalay uchchtam nyayalay ya uchch nyayalay in most cases provide relief to so-called shantipriy samuday and staying Vishalgarh encroachment is one such example in which Bombay high court has stayed anti encroachment drive stopping encroachment drive on railway land by uchchtam nyayalay is another example People must come forward to stop these actions by manniya jai sriram har har Mahadev jai hindu rashtra Bharat


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