Showing zero tolerance towards illegal structures, even ‘religious’ ones, the Bombay high court has directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to demolish an extension to a temple inside a building compound at Prabhadevi.
A division bench of justice Ranjana Desai and justice Rajesh Ketkar, on Tuesday, directed the BMC to demolish the illegal extension to a Sai Baba temple inside the compound of the Western Prabhadevi housing society within four weeks. Justice Desai told the BMC, “Don’t touch the idol.” She added, “Go pray, but no huge construction can be allowed.”
The court was hearing a petition filed by the housing society seeking demolition of the illegal extension to the temple built by the Om Sai Mitra Mandal, which manages the temple trust. The members of the trust reside in the building adjoining the Western Prabhadevi CHS.
According to the petition, the mandal had built an illegal extension to the temple that is in the open space inside their compound. The housing society, comprising 33 members, is a ground plus four-storey building. When the temple was constructed in 1989, it was 8 feet x 3 feet, the petition said.
The temple is in the southern side of the compulsory open space of the building, which residents use to enter the building and to park their vehicles. “The society always co-operated with the mandal during annual festivals despite the inconvenience caused due to the blocked entrance to the building,” the petition stated.
On September 9, 2010, the society learnt that the temple trust was bringing construction material to the site. When they asked the trust managers, they were unable to say whether they had permission from the BMC to build there. The housing society lodged a complaint with the BMC and also with the police against the mandal.
The mandal, however, claimed that before the construction, they had a meeting with members of the housing society, who approved of the plan.
“They refused to give us a written NOC, but said they supported the construction. Residents were even present when we did the bhoomi puja,” said Shailesh Mane, secretary of the trust.