Monuments are seen as a symbol of tradition. In a country such as India with its diversity and history, there is all the more reason why the past should be preserved. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act were passed with the same intention. Is property construction near monuments violative of law, the Allahabad High Court clarified.
The Petitioner in the given case had a property which was within 200 meters of ancient monuments in Kushi Nagar District, the place where Buddha was believed to have gained Nirvana. This was said to in violation of the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act). According to the provisions of Section 20B of the AMASR Act
“The area within 200 meters of every protected monument and the archaeological site as Regulated Area and any construction thereof is regulated by the competent authority under the Act.”
An order for demolition of the said property was set forth.
The main arguments raised by the petitioner was that the order that passed was done so without conducting any proper hearing and was, therefore, violative of the principle of audi alteram partem. The petitioner also contended that the said property was 200 meters away from the monument and was thereby not violative of the law.
The State responded stating that an order was published regarding construction in 2012, disregarding the said order the petitioner had gone forward with the construction work. The petitioner was also given an option of a hearing in January 2021, which they had not turned up for.
The Court in its order reiterated the importance of principles of natural justice when it stated that,
“Even the residence of all the persons in the notice have not been shown. In a casual manner, the impugned order dated 12.2.2021 has been passed in haste directing the Tehsildar to get remove the construction of the buildings/houses without giving any opportunity of hearing to the petitioners which is against the principles of natural justice.”
The Division Bench of Justices Naheed Ara Moonis and Dinesh Pathak stayed the demolition of the property and asked the Petitioner to appear before the competent authority. The order stated that
“The writ petition is disposed of with the direction to the petitioners to approach the competent authority within two weeks from today by making a fresh representation/objection, which shall be considered and decided by the authority concerned in accordance with law within a month, thereafter, after giving due opportunity of hearing to the petitioners and after conducting a survey of the concerned area.”
The Court also ordered that no decision should be taken by the respondents, for a period of 6 weeks till the petitioners approach a competent authority. The Court also extended the right to respondents to apply for a recall in case they had been furnished with false information by the Petitioners.
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