Thursday, May 22, 2014

Gujarat high court stays construction of new Bhadra court building

A couple of days after the city civil court was shifted for construction of eight-floor building at Bhadra, the Gujarat high court on Wednesday stayed demolition of the present court buildings and any construction on the spot.

The HC has stayed construction in response to a PIL filed by advocate I M Khan, who has questioned the proposed construction of multi-storey court complex near the ASI-protected Bhadra Fort. He has sought court's direction to authorities not to pull down a part of the Mughal-era monument, Azam Khan's Sarai, though it is not a listed monument. He has demanded that the historic monument should be preserved as a heritage structure.

On hearing petitioner's advocate J T Trivedi about pre-requisite sanction from archaeological authorities, Justice S G Shah ordered "immediate interim" stay on construction of buildings. The judge issued notices to all concerned authorities the Archaeological Survey of India, the National Monument Authority, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the state's road and building department. Further hearing has been scheduled for Friday.

To establish that the large-scale demolition will take place soon in absence of any mandatory sanction from ASI, advocate Trivedi cited the notification issued for shifting of courts to the old high court campus, and a note written by competent authority from ASI, Vadodara. This PIL was filed last year, but the petitioner moved another application after he got more documents from the archaeological authorities.

The PIL claims that the Sarai is divided in three parts. One part falls in Fort's protected area, whereas two others are in the 200-metre regulated zone. For construction of the court building, one portion of the Sarai is required to be brought down, which is not proper and the entire building should be preserved as precious heritage.

Earlier, the petitioner took objection to demolition of staff quarters of irrigation department without obtaining permission from the ASI, though the building was within 100-metre prohibitory zone of the Bhadra Fort. After demolishing this structure, a shed was constructed at the place to accommodate practicing lawyers of the city civil and sessions court.

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