Tuesday, October 24, 2006
OBSTACLE-REMOVER BECOMES THE OBSTACLE
it was an order that the trustees did not bargain for. they were cocksure that the pil filed by the affected residents did not merit high court intervention. after all, after akshardam,ayodhya and varanasi,siddhivinayak(lord ganesa) temple, is in the hitlist of terrorists. and security measures had to be taken to prevent a repeat of what happened in those temples.yes,by all means security must be reinforced for the safety of the temple and its piligrims.but does that give the license to the trustees to grab public land ostensibly for security of the temple? the high court didn't think so.
in a recent order given by the division bench of the mumbai high court,the trustees have been asked to demolish the wall by october 30. in the arguments the sv temple advocate pleaded that his clients had sought police help due to the 'threat perception' and that the bmc had given permission to the construction of the wall. the police advocate said that since bmc permission was given, the trustees went ahead with the construction for safety of the temple and the pilgrims. it transpires that the permission was only temporary and the temple authorities were expected to bring the wall down as soon as the permission expired on october 31 2006. however,bmc advocate claimed that the trustees had spent rs 6 crores on the construction of the 40 metre long wall and that they should be allowed to maintain it in the oveerall interests of security.the division bench was unrelenting.they ordered the demolition to be completed by 30th october and that due compliance be reported to the court.
this whole episode raises a few pertinent issues.if security was the prime concern,there were so many other methods available than to grab a large portion of land and build a huge wall.and how does that prevent a terrorist to get into one of the neighbouring buildings and perform his mission.and should the trustees be spending rs 6 crores for a temporary structure? the crash barrier includes a four foot high concrete wall and a three foot high metal barricade.
it is evident that the trustees placed themselves above law. they put into inconvenience hundreds of residents in the vicinity by blocking access to three important roads and to busstops and did not bother to consult them if at all they wanted some road space. they were confident that as they had the backing of the police and the bmc, no body could touch them. alas it was not so. the residents upset by this highhandedness of the trustees decided to file a pil(public interest litigation) in the mumbai high court pointing to the land grabbing and inconvenience caused to the public in the name of temple security.members of cooperarive societies living nearby are not allowed to leave or enter the premises after 10 pm.it had become dangerous for pedestrians especially senior citizens and children who had to dodge motorists.also the wall caused massive traffic disruptions on the busy veer savarkar marg."the wall is a direct encroachment on our fundamental right to movement" said the president of the prabhadevi residents' association.the advocate who represented the petitioners is neither a senior advocate or even a wellknown lawyer. but he did the job and received accolades from his clients and the public at large.
yet another instance of state government failure and judicial intervention for meting out justice.