HC dismisses PIL regarding set up of Nanasaheb memorial

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 01 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court while dismissing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by AshokRawoot and few other villagers against Maharashtra government's decision to set up a Nanasaheb Memorial in Raigad, considered advocate general Darius Khambata's submissions at length. The advocate general had said and the HC recorded that the PIL "petitioners, in the name of public interest litigation, have selectively chosen to challenge the decision of the State Government to set up memorial of Dr. NanasahebDharmadhikari, whereas, in the proceedings of the same Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, it was decided to set up memorials of similar famous personalities at other places. The petitioners have not offered any explanation in this behalf, except contending that they were unaware of the Assembly proceedings. " The HC bench of Justices Ajay Khanwilkar and A P Bhangale said they refrained from imposing costs and dismissed the PIL.

The PIL, essentially, took exception to the order passed in March, 2011 to earmark land, which had vested in gram panchayat, for construction of the Dr. Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari. The challenge was on the basis that the Supreme Court has held that the government cannot permit allotment of gramsabha land to private persons and commercial enterprises on payment of some money. The principle was that such gramsabha land could only be used as a public utility land. In Maharashtra, however, the law allows government to take lands vested with panchayats if such land is not required for any state or national public purpose.

The state said the land in Alibaug, Raigad was required for "building a monument of the Late Dr. Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari, who was a great social worker having a huge following. For his social works Maharashtra Government honoured him with the 'Maharashtra Bhushan' Award. The late Dr. Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari worked towards educating villagers / adivasis regarding eradicating dowry, eradication of superstitions, establishing training centres for children in accordance with modern times, adult literacy campaigns, creation of de-addiction centres, institution of family values and family life, blood donation drives, tree plantation, village cleanliness etc. '' The memorial is intended to ensure enlightenment among the masses the state said.

The state said it has a "policy to create monuments of national and respected personalities.

The HC after hearing the petitioner said "no material or legal provision has been brought to our notice to show as to how the use of land for setting up a Memorial of this nature can be said to be non-conforming user qua the Development Plan i.e., residential." It added, "Be that as it may, the fact remains that the State Government has taken a conscious decision to utilise the land for setting up memorial in the name of late Dr. Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari, who is revered by the society for his contribution on several social issues and and had, therefore, been honoured with Maharashtra Bhushan Award. The challenge to the impugned order, in our opinion, therefore, cannot be countenanced." The question is: Whether the user of the land for setting up of the memorial of late Dr. Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari can be said to be for public purpose? The HC said the state has shown that is for public purpose. It relied on a speech by the finance minister in March 2010.

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