SC Refuses To Regularise Unauthorised Mosque On Public Property, Allows Exercise Of Option To Relocate [Read Order]

SC Refuses To Regularise Unauthorised Mosque On Public Property, Allows Exercise Of Option To Relocate [Read Order]

The Supreme Court vacation bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice UU Lalit on Friday refused to interfere with the Bombay High Court judgment dated November 17 in Shafique Ahmed Khan & Anr v State of Maharashtra & Ors, wherein the high court has upheld the decision of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and a municipal corporation level committee to demolish an unauthorised mosque erected on public property at Shivaji Nagar, Navi Mumbai.

Senior counsel Shyam Diwan, appearing on behalf of the petitioner Trust, referred to a Maharashtra state Government Resolution (GR) dated May 5, 2011, which provides that all religious structures erected post September 29, 2009, shall have no protection while categorising structures erected prior to the said date into 3 categories - Category A, for regularisation; Category B, for demolition; and Category C, for rehabilitation. Diwan submitted that initially the mosque in question was categorised as belonging to Category C, but subsequently, an affidavit dated November 17 was filed by the MIDC before the Bombay High Court, changing the category to B.

The senior counsel further submitted that the said religious structure is very old, in view of the fact that it was first assessed to municipal tax in 1990-91. It was contended that the shrine is at a distance of 50 metres from the main road and should be placed in Category A. The survey report, the fact of registration in 1998 and the electricity and water bills were relied upon in support of the regularisation of the mosque.

Relying on an earlier GR according the status of protection to all structures encroaching on state land, residential or commercial, in existence prior to the year 2000, it was argued, “It is also the land of the MIDC where slums have come up. If protection is being accorded to the residents of these slums, then why can the same protection not be extended to a religious structure on the same land?”

Finally, Diwan expressed the willingness of the petitioner Trust “to opt for lease or alternative allotment to relocate to any other place at market rate of land”, undertaking to make a representation in the same behalf within one week.

Recording the statement of Diwan that if the structure in question is to be relocated, the petitioners shall pay market rate, the bench ruled, “We do not find any ground to interfere with the impugned order. However, this order will not debar the consideration of any representation of the petitioners, if permissible under the law/policy”.

Read the Order Here