The state government has begun consultations with legal experts to prepare its defence in allocating the Mayor’s Bungalow for Bal Thackeray Memorial. A section of legal luminaries has told the government there was no court order but only a suggestion that government bungalows should not be misused by either occupants or given for memorials. The BJP-Shiv Sena government has engaged legal experts to guide it on the July 5, 2013 apex court decision.
“The legal experts have told the government that the apex court has only listed suggestions and there was no final order in the matter,” a source told The Indian Express.
Officials in the state legal department, urban development department and BMC too are trying to ascertain the facts to ensure the project does not get into a legal wrangle.
Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is likely to discuss the issue with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis next week. “Various options are being explored, including how to adopt executive or legislative powers if anybody challenges the project in court,” an official said.
“We will not allow a rollback of the allocation of Mayor’s Bungalow for Thackeray’s memorial… Even if someone legally challenges the project, we will secure approval in the legislature and go ahead. I don’t think the matter will come to that. The chief minister is firm on giving the bungalow for the memorial. And that matters,” a senior Sena minister said.
“Even the decision was taken by a committee headed by Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshtriya after weighing all options, including eight to 10 other places in Mumbai and its suburbs,” he said.
In July 2013, (S D Bandi vs Divisional Traffic Officer, KSRTC & Ors), the court had stated, “Henceforth, no memorials should be allowed in future in any government houses earmarked for residential accommodation.” It was among 20 other suggestions made in the same matter.
However, the concluding paragraph in the same matter states, “It is unfortunate that the employees, officers, representatives of people and other high dignitaries continue to stay in the residential accommodation provided by the Government of India though they are no longer entitled to such accommodation. Many such persons continue to occupy residential accommodation commensurate with the offices held by them earlier and which are beyond their present entitlement.”