29 Sep 2022 1:36 PM GMT
The Bombay High Court has directed the District Collector Mumbai Suburban to reconstruct a several decades-old crematorium on Erangal Beach in Mumbai which was earlier demolished for alleged Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations without hearing the local fisherfolk who built it.A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar noted that the crematorium was...
The Bombay High Court has directed the District Collector Mumbai Suburban to reconstruct a several decades-old crematorium on Erangal Beach in Mumbai which was earlier demolished for alleged Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations without hearing the local fisherfolk who built it.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar noted that the crematorium was in existence even before the CRZ notification of February 18, 1991 and therefore quashed Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA)'s order declaring it illegal.
The court dismissed a PIL filed by 'legal consultant' Chetan Vyas, who alleged crematorium was in violation of CRZ norms and directed him to pay Rs. 1 lakh cost to the aggrieved fisherfolk. The court also asked the State to recover the cost of reconstruction of the crematorium from him.
Chetan Vyas's PIL had alleged that the construction being undertaken at the crematorium was in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules.
A coordinate bench in October 2021 had ordered a joint inspection of the crematorium by BMC, District Collectorate and MCZMA to ascertain whether the crematorium which was under construction had violated CRZ norms.
"Needless to say that in the event it is found that the construction is illegal, appropriate action will be taken by the Respondent-Authorities forthwith," the bench had said, while staying the construction work.
Subsequently, the demolition action was also undertaken by the authorities. The crematorium was located between two resorts.
The villagers using the crematorium then approached the HC claiming that land was reserved for the crematorium in the revenue extract. They said the old construction was damaged by Cyclone Tauktae last year and therefore permission was being sought.
The bench led by Chief Justice Datta had last week noted that the fish-folk were neither made party to the petition at the time of seeking demolition orders nor were they put to notice despite the court explicitly stating that any demolition must be in accordance with the law.
During earlier hearings, the court had expressed disapproval over the manner in which the authorities obtained demolition orders from a coordinate bench when the CJ was unavailable.
"Prima Facie we are satisfied that machinery of the court has been abused to ensure removal of the crematorium," the CJ had said in his interim order.
To ascertain if MCZMA was even authorized to pass such an order, the bench had directed the BMC to produce records of prior to February 18, 1991, the date when CRZ notification was issued.
As per the record, two entries were found in BMC register demonstrating the existence of the crematorium in the year 1990 and 1991. On Thursday the HC directed Deputy Collector Vijay Garg to overlook the reconstruction.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 360