The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently directed the District Committee of the state government to take an appropriate decision within two weeks pertaining to a PIL that alleged unauthorised construction of a mosque at a public place in Jalna town.
The PIL claimed the local administration has been lax in taking action to remove the mosque in accordance with a 2009 Supreme Court decision, which held that no unauthorised construction should be carried out or permitted in name of temple, church, mosque and gurdwara among others at public places, including streets and parks.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Ravindra V Ghuge last week passed an order in a PIL filed by Arya Samaj, Jalna, in 2018, stating that despite the 2009 Apex Court order, a mosque has been constructed in an unauthorised manner in Kadrabad area on a piece of land to be used for proposed Development Plan (DP) road.
The petitioner, through advocate Aashish T Jadhavar, added that the mosque is situated within the jurisdiction of Jalna Municipal Council at the instance of the district Waqf board officer. He said that the administration, both civil and municipal, have been lax in taking action to remove the structure. The PIL sought direction to the administration to remove the alleged unauthorised construction.
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The petitioners referred to the top court order of September 29, 2009, in Union of India v State of Gujarat case, which held that no unauthorised construction should be carried out in the name of places of worship on public places and if such constructions have already been taken up, the state governments shall review the same and take appropriate steps in an expeditious manner and the district authorities should strictly comply with the Apex Court order. The PIL claimed that Jalna district and civic authorities failed to comply with the SC order in the present case.
The court noted that an affidavit reply by Jalna Municipal Council stated that it has not granted any kind of construction permission and that the construction on such a land has affected the proposed nine-metre DP road.
Additional Government Pleader S B Yawalkar for the state government submitted that it has constituted district committees as per SC order and the decision is required to be taken by such a panel on question of demolition or otherwise of such unauthorisedly constructed mosque.
He said that as per May 5, 2011 Government Resolution (GR) of the state home department, the District Collector would be chairperson of the district panel in the regard, the Superintendent of Police, Chief Executive Officer of Zilla Parishad, Commissioner of Municipal Corporation and Chief Officer of Municipal Council its members and Resident Deputy Collector its member secretary.
The bench said that it required the panel to take appropriate decision in terms of the SC order within a period of two weeks and the same shall be placed by the government lawyer before the next hearing on the PIL on July 26.
The court also said that if the respondents, including the district Waqf officer, who, according to the PIL is responsible for construction of the mosque, are not represented during the next date of hearing, it would proceed against them ex parte to pass appropriate orders in the PIL.