The Supreme Court on Monday gave the Maharashtra government the last opportunity to remove illegal encroachments on a 908 square metre area near the historic Haji Ali Dargah shrine in south Mumbai. The court has granted two weeks to the authorities concerned to remove these encroachments. In April, the court granted the Dargah Trust time till May 8 to complete the job after the latter expressed its inability in completing the task.
According to a PTI report, a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud granted two weeks time to remove encroachments and has asked the deputy collector to ensure that its order is complied with. The Supreme Court told the deputy collector of Colaba zone of south Mumbai that serious action will be taken if its order is not complied in two weeks starting today.
The Trust had on April 13 relented to the Supreme Court’s order and volunteered to remove them by May 8. “We will remove the structures as per the SC order and hand over the land. We also have the liberty of approaching the collector later on to seek a lease on the handed over land. The trustees will meet in the next few days and formulate a roadmap to implement the SC proposal,” Suhail Yacoob Khandwani the trustee of the Haji Ali Dargah said.
The direction to demolish the encroachments came after it was made clear that only the mosque would remain protected while the rest of the area has to be cleared of squatters. The formation of a joint task force comprising the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and the Collector to remove illegal encroachments on the approach road leading to the Haji Ali Dargah was ordered by The Bombay High Court. It had made it clear that no other court, other than the apex court, will entertain the petition relating to the removal of encroachments around the shrine.
Last year, the Supreme Court stayed the entry of women inside the shrine till October 17 and said that the Dargah management would come out with a progressive stand in two weeks. In November, the co-founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), Noorjehan S Niaz, along with a group of activists entered the shrine and prayed at the saint’s mausoleum. The BMMA had challenged the ban imposed by Dargah Trust in 2014.
With PTI inputs