Mayawati’s demolition spree gets apex court nod


New Delhi : Endorsing the Uttar Pradesh government’s demolition spree in Lucknow undertaken to pave the way for new constructions, the Supreme Court Thursday allowed it to raze an old government bungalow in the state capital.

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While passing a blanket order for demolition of old, dilapidated government houses, a bench of Justice H.K. Sema and Justice Markandey Katju also allowed the government to demolish its four other bungalows, including the one where Chief Minister Mayawati lived earlier.

The bench gave the go-ahead saying that the government was well within its right to raze its own bungalows, and set aside an order of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court which had restrained the demolitions.

The four bungalows that the government wanted to demolish are bungalows numbering 12, 12A, 13 and 13A. As leader of opposition in the state assembly, Mayawati earlier was allotted 13 and 13 A.

Emboldened by the green signal for demolition, the state government also apprised the court that it had already filed another application for its permission to demolish a sports complex near the Ambedkar Park and sought an earlier hearing on it, possibly next Friday.

The state government’s move to seek the apex court’s permission to undertake the demolition of government property in the city was opposed by D.K. Garg, counsel for the Gomati Nagar Jan Kalyan Mahasamiti.

Garg pointed out to the court that it was Justice Katju himself who as a judge of the Allahabad High Court had passed several orders on his client’s petition and restrained the state from undertaking the demolition.

But Justice Katju simply smiled at Garg’s plea and ignored it.

As the government counsel revealed its intention to demolish the sports complex, Garg opposed it as he said it was built merely four years ago at the cost of Rs.1 billion.

But the government counsel contended that the sports complex needed to be demolished to build another sports complex of international standards.

Garg also opposed the government’s plan to move its pleas for demolishing buildings one by one.

He also contended that “it was unheard of” in the history of court proceedings that a bench granted such significant permissions to a petitioner in an interim order, passed on the first occasion merely after a brief hearing of the matter and without letting the opposite parties to have their say.

Justice Katju rebuked him for the argument and said: “I’m not accustomed to hearing cries and screams.”

Garg replied: “I’m also not accustomed to any government seeking relief in such piecemeal fashion.”

Government counsel during his argument told the court that the state wanted to undertake development activities in Lucknow as per the new master plan for the city after razing old, dilapidated buildings, but several people have stalled the government from undertaking the development work by filing lawsuits in the state high court.

In their petitions, they have alleged that the government had been undertaking construction activities in parks and playgrounds, green belts and open spaces in violation of city’s master plan, the government told the apex court.