SC stops razing of Gujarat shrines | india | Hindustan Times
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SC stops razing of Gujarat shrines

ACTING ON a plea from the Centre, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Gujarat High Court order of May 2, which had directed civic authorities of Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat to remove all religious structures encroaching upon public land.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 14:31 IST

ACTING ON a plea from the Centre, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Gujarat High Court order of May 2, which had directed civic authorities of Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat to remove all religious structures encroaching upon public land.

The HC order, which had come a day after mobs clashed with the police over the demolition of a 200-year-old dargah in Vadodara, had led to a fresh round of violence in the city. On Wednesday, the army was deployed after the situation threatened to turn communal. Six people were killed in the violence that persisted for three days.

The SC order was welcomed in Vadodara, which remained peaceful on Thursday — mainly because of flag marches by the army and the deployment of paramilitary forces.

The Centre, through a special leave petition, drew the attention of the SC to the repercussions of the HC order both for Gujarat and the country. The Centre said in its petition: “…in view of the extremely volatile situation prevalent in Vadodara, it is in the interests of justice that the impugned order is stayed….” The Centre said if the demolition drive continued, the situation in Vadodara would turn “uncontrollable”.

A bench of justices Ruma Pal and Dalveer Bhandari then stayed the HC order and issued notices to the Gujarat authorities, seeking their response.

The Centre said in the petition that it was filing the plea as it was “interested in ensuring that the law and order situation in Gujarat does not go out of hand” and the move was not an “adversarial” litigation. The petition contested the HC order. It said the HC had taken suo motu cognisance of “unverified” newspaper reports about illegal religious structures and directed their demolition.

The Centre said the HC had no material showing the number of such structures in the city and whether any of them fell under the protected category. "…the HC to act on the basis of a news item on a purported survey by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, particularly without adjudging the impact of the order on the present state of communal harmony and without exploring alternative means of removing unauthorised structures, lends the said order liable to challenge," the petition said.

Returning to normal
Forces ensure peace: Army’s flag march and heavy deployment of paramilitary forces ensured peace in Vadodara on Thursday Curfew relaxed: Affected areas got some respite when curfew was relaxed for women and children for a few hours More today: Police said the curfew will be relaxed for men on Friday if the situation continued to remain peaceful