Clearing the way for the demolition of the building at the centre of the Akash Vijayvargiya controversy, the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court Tuesday allowed the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) to continue with the process.
The High Court direction came on the day the Prime Minister disapproved of Akash Vijayvargiya’s conduct and called for the removal from the party of those who had felicitated him as he stepped out of prison on bail. The strong message from Delhi sent the Indore BJP into a huddle with most leaders declining comment on whether action would be taken against the party workers.
The High Court, in its direction, asked the IMC to make temporary arrangements for the only family still living in the building, within two days for a period of three days to “tide over the rain” — the family had moved court against the demolition.
On June 26, Akash Vijayvargiya, BJP MLA and son of powerful party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, was sent to jail after assaulting an IMC official with a bat who was in the Ganji compound area to demolish the building that had been declared a public safety hazard.
Referring to the incident, the HC said: “This court is of the firm view that nobody is above rule of law. Nobody can be permitted to take law into their hands.”
While the demolition of building number 52 and 53, Nagar Nigam road in the Ganji compound area was initially set for Tuesday, Bherulal, a member of the family still living in the dilapidated building, approached the court Monday, challenging the IMC notice issued to vacate the house.
His advocate, former Deputy Advocate General Pushyamitra Bhargava, argued that the IMC had not fulfilled conditions such as an on record opinion of the Commissioner, and said inadequate time was given to the tenant to reply or move, while challenging the reports which had declared the building a public safety hazard.
Advocate for the IMC, Rishi Tiwari, argued that the law allowed for the Commissioner to delegate authority, that several notices had been sent, and that the building in question was a public safety hazard.
In his order, Justice Rohit Arya said the activities of the IMC that are in “public interest” could not be faulted for an “individual’s inconvenience.” He said the case at hand was about the demolition of a building “for public good to avoid casualties and untoward catastrophic situations due to the collapse of dilapidated buildings during rainy seasons” and that the court “appreciates the steps taken by the corporation.”
Justice Arya said that the tenants, the family of Bherulal, must be taken care of for a temporary period by the IMC. He repeatedly made the point that it was the IMC’s job to remove public safety hazards, pointing to the deaths in the collapse of MS Hotel in Indore in 2018 when nine people died. He said that officials doing their job had no personal animosity and asked who would be responsible if something untoward were to happen.
Meanwhile, the Indore BJP refused to comment on the Prime Minister’s remarks about the incident involving Akash. Indore BJP spokesperson Devkinandan Tiwari said, “I am not aware of what the Indore BJP stand is. You will have to speak to senior leaders.”
Former MLA Jitu Jirati, who earlier spoke in favour of Akash, said: “Akash is young, and far from praising him, I think it was a condemnable event.”
“It is true that something like this shouldn’t happen in society, in a democracy, and if the Prime Minister has said then it is not just for the BJP and its leaders to think, but for the entire country. We will have to walk a disciplined line.”
Indore Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha president Mansvi Patidar, who had also attended an event where the sentiment was adulatory towards Vijayvargiya, said that the BJP’s protest was not “in celebration of Akash, but against the Congress”. “We will follow whatever the party line will be,” he said.