THE SUPREME Court on Monday granted the Maharashtra government a final “two-weeks time” to get rid of the encroachments on the 908 square-metre area around the Haji Ali Dargah shrine in Mumbai. The bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud warned that non-compliance of the order will invite “serious consequences” and asked the Deputy Collector of Colaba zone to be present in court on the next date of hearing.
“It is our direction. You have the Bombay High Court order, supported by the Supreme Court. Comply with it or serious consequences will follow,” the bench said. The bench noted the March 22 notice of the Deputy Collector Encroachment Removal, which said the area under encroachment was 908 square-metre and that the Haji Ali Dargah Trust (HADT) had no objection in removing the encroachers. The court’s direction came as the Trust, which had previously volunteered to remove the encroachments, on Monday expressed its inability to remove them from an area of about 500 square metres.
Senior advocate Raju Ramchandran, appearing for the Trust, said that out of the total 908 square metres, there were still squatters on about 500 square metres. On April 13, the Trust had agreed to remove the encroachments on its own by May 8. The time was later extended. The SC also lauded the Trust’s efforts to remove the encroachments.
The question of encroachments around the dargah had first come up before the Bombay High Court in a petition by a voluntary group. The HC ordered constitution of a joint task force comprising the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and the Collector.