8 July 2023 10:30 AM GMT
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Gujarat High Court, challenging the alleged inaction of the Municipal Commissioner of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in providing burial places for minority communities.The PIL, filed by Mujahid Nafees, Convener of Minority Coordination Committee, Gujarat, seeks to address the alleged lack of burial grounds for minority...
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Gujarat High Court, challenging the alleged inaction of the Municipal Commissioner of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in providing burial places for minority communities.
The PIL, filed by Mujahid Nafees, Convener of Minority Coordination Committee, Gujarat, seeks to address the alleged lack of burial grounds for minority communities, including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists, and others.
The petitioner highlights the alleged failure of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to fulfil its statutory and obligatory duties, as outlined in the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1949. The Act specifically mandates the maintenance, change, and regulation of places for the disposal of the dead and provision of new places for the same purpose, as well as the disposal of unclaimed bodies.
The matter first came up on Wednesday, when a bench of Acting Chief Justice AJ Desai and Justice Biren Vaishnav expressed disinclination to issue notice, in view of a similar PIL having been withdrawn by the same petitioner in 2021.
However, as the petitioner's counsel sought time, the Court posted the matter for 28 August.
The PIL states, after more than 70 years of implementation of the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1949, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has only maintained 24 crematoria for the Hindu community, neglecting the provision of burial places for minority communities such as Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists, and others.
The plea further avers that to gather information on burial places for various religious communities, including minorities, the petitioner had filed several applications under the Right to Information Act, 2005. In response, the Information Officer (Deputy Health Officer) of the Health Branch of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation provided information confirming the absence of burial grounds for minority communities, it is said.
The PIL further states that written representations were made to the Municipal Commissioner of Ahmedabad and various public authorities of the State Government, responsible for controlling and regulating the municipal corporation through the Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1949. These authorities include the Chief Secretary of Gujarat State, the Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development and Urban Housing Department, and the Chief Minister of the State. However, no response or decision was received from any of the concerned authorities.
The petitioner also sought information from other municipal corporations. It is averred that the response from Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation stated the existence of one burial place named "Muktidham" in Sector 30. Similarly, the South East Zone (Limbayat) of Surat Municipal Corporation replied, acknowledging one burial place managed by one Sureshbhai Ramanbhai Varodia on behalf of the Muktidham Hindu Smashan Bhumi Trust, the plea said.
Furthermore, the petitioner filed an application with the Gujarat State WAQF Board, which replied, stating that no land had been allotted or reserved for Muslim graveyards (Qabristan). The response also highlighted the lack of government funds or assistance provided to the WAQF Board for the administration of Muslim graveyards, the plea claims.
The petitioner thus seeks a direction from the court to declare the discriminatory use of public funds by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, "which favors a single religious community", as violative of Section 63 (11) of the Gujarat Municipal Corporation Act, 1949, as well as Article 14, 15, and 27 of the Constitution of India.
Additionally, petitioner seeks a direction for the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to allocate land for burial places for all minority communities, and provide necessary funds for their maintenance, change, and regulation, similar to the provisions for the Hindu religious community under Section 63(11) of the GPMC Act, 1949.
Case Title: Mujahid Nafees Versus State Of Gujarat R/Writ Petition (Pil) No. 67 Of 2023
Appearance: Mr Kr Koshti(1092) For The Applicant(S) No. 1 For The Opponent(S) No. 2 Advance Copy Served To Government Pleader/Pp For The Opponent(S) No. 1
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