It’s a Policy Decision; Bombay HC Rejects Plea to Stay Construction of Chhatrapati Shivaji Statue [Read Orders]

It’s a Policy Decision; Bombay HC Rejects Plea to Stay Construction of Chhatrapati Shivaji Statue [Read Orders]

‘The priorities of the public need are matters which lie completely in the domain of the state government.’

The Bombay High Court on Friday refused to stay the construction of the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial observing that the project is a policy decision taken by the state.

The bench of Chief Justice Naresh H Patil and Justice GS Kulkarni were considering three PILs seeking interference of the court against the construction of the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial in the Arabian Sea at Mumbai.

Prof. Mohan Prabhakar Bhide, a chartered accountant, and ICWA had approached the high court seeking to scrap this project. He contended that such a project, to be constructed from public funds, is a waste of taxpayers’ money. He also said the state is not paying attention to the existing old monuments like that at the birthplace of Chhatrapati Shivaji at Shivneri Fort.

Rejecting these contentions, the bench observed: “We may observe that the decision to have a project of this nature is a policy decision taken by the State. From the reply affidavit, it is clear that the proper financial provision has been made and normal expenditure which would be incurred by the State Government on other necessary requirements is not being affected. Also the learned Senior Counsel for the State has argued before us that the State contemplates a scheme which would be worked out inter alia to recoup the cost of the project which may include fees which would be charged from the visitors.”

Refusing interference, the bench said the priorities of the public need are matters which lie completely in the domain of the state government.

We are sure that the State Government has given its appropriate consideration on all the financial issues before taking a policy decision to undertake the project in question, the court added.

The bench passed a separate order refusing a stay of the project in the PIL filed by the Conservation Action Trust, which challenged the environmental and CRZ clearance to the project.

The petitioners had objected to the provisions of a notification which conferred the powers on the Central government to dispense with the requirement of public hearing for some matters, if it is satisfied that the project will not involve rehabilitation and resettlement of the public or the project site is located away from human habitation.

On this contention, the bench said: “Prima facie on a plain reading of clause(D), ipso facto, in our opinion, the incorporation of clause (D) does not appear to be invalid or illegal. “

The court further added: “In undertaking the present project the State Government has in terms stated that the project does not involve rehabilitation and resettlement of the public and the project site is located away from human habitation. If this be the position, prima facie, we do not find that there is anything arbitrary on the part of the Central Government in incorporating such provision. We thus find much substance in the contention as urged on behalf of the State. It also cannot be overlooked that the project is considered by the State Government to be of national importance.”

The court also rejected interim relief in another PIL filed by Shweta Wagh which had sought a direction to not restrict any fishing activities for designated fishing zones in the project.

Read the Orders Here