The Bombay High Court Wednesday refused to relax its interim stay on demolitions and evictions amid the pandemic and asked the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) to inform the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that its order to evict encroachers from a riverbed cannot be implemented at least till October 31.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justices A A Sayed, S S Shinde and K K Tated was hearing an interim application by the PCMC seeking relaxation of the HC order that puts a stay on demolition, eviction or dispossession during the pandemic.
On June 16, the NGT had directed the PCMC to submit within three months an action taken report pertaining to the removal of illegal reclamation of floodplains, diversion of the original and natural flow of rivers, encroachment by way of dumping and unauthorised construction on the floodplains of rivers flowing through Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad cities. The green panel, which is set to hear the matter on October 16, had said if its orders were not complied with within the stipulated time, the civic authorities would be liable for paying costs of Rs 1 crore. In view of this, the PCMC had sought permission to demolish the structures and evict people occupying them.
CJ Datta asked the PCMC if the green tribunal was aware of the Bombay HC order and the similar rulings passed by all high courts across the country. “Removal of encroachment means dispossession of a few residents. During the period of the pandemic, we do not want anybody to be rendered homeless.”
The court held as the more than 100 parties to be evicted as per the NGT order were not before them, they were not inclined to pass orders in favour of PCMC without hearing the parties involved in erecting illegal constructions. It said the orders for eviction, dispossession and demolition, already passed by courts across Maharashtra and Goa, will remain in abeyance until October 31.