Allahabad High Court Orders Stay of Demolition of Residential Complexes Built Near Buddhist Monuments

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Allahabad High Court

Excerpt

The High Court of Allahabad in an order dated 15.02.2021 directed to stay the demolition of the residential complexes which were allegedly constructed in the immediate vicinity of the ancient temples of Lord Buddha where he had attained Nirvana. The Order was passed in a special hearing on Monday by the Bench comprising Justice Nahid Aara Moonis and Dinesh Pathak.

Facts of the Case

In the present case, it was said that the Petitioner’s property was constructed in breach of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act). According to Section 20 of this Act, the competent authority provided under this act was empowered to regulate the construction of any type within the area of 200 meters of every protected monument and archaeological site which comes under the regulated areas. 

In this case, it was contended that the property of the Plaintiff came under the area specified under Section 20 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act). The property of the Plaintiff came within the limit of 200 meters from the ancient protected Buddhist monuments situated in Kushinagar District where the Lord Buddha had attained Nirvana. Therefore, the property could be regulated by the concerned authority. 

As a consequence, the directions were issued by the Sub-divisional Magistrate on 12 February for the demolition of the residential property of the Plaintiff which was in the close vicinity of the Buddhist Monuments.

Pleadings before the Court

The Petitioner contended that they were not given the opportunity to hear before the passing of the impugned Order as the Order was passed on the same date on which the reply to the notice was submitted. It was further submitted that the map of the construction of the residential complex of the Plaintiff was passed by the competent authority and no one ever raised any objection on this property. Also, the distance of the concerned property was more than 200 meters from the protected ancient Buddhist Monuments. In addition to it, the Petitioners were residing in the subjected property for the last ten years. 

On the other hand, the Respondent submitted that the Petitioner was given a show-cause notice in the year 2010 as well as in the year 2012 and even after this, the Petitioners constructed the property in the prohibited area. It was further submitted that the Petitioners were given a chance to be heard and to file the reply of the notice within 15 days limit, but they failed to do so. 

Court’s Observations

The Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Nahid Aara Moonis and Dinesh Pathak observed that nothing had been shown by the Respondents which showed that the properties of the Plaintiff came under the prohibited area. It was further observed that the Order of demolition of the residential property near the Buddhist Monuments had been passed in haste on 12 February 2021 and the Plaintiff was not given an opportunity to be heard. 

Court’s Order

In the Order passed by the Allahabad High Court, the demolition of the houses of the Plaintiff which were situated in close vicinity of the ancient monuments of the Buddhist faith was stayed. The Court further directed the Plaintiff to approach the competent authority. It also directed the Respondent not to take any action against the Petitioner in the meantime.

Click here for the judgement.


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