Bombay High Court: Rebuild Hindu graveyard in Erangal within a month: High Court

Mumbai: The High Court has directed the district collector to rebuild the razed Hindu graveyard on Erangal beach in Madh area within a month. Also, the complainant in this case and resort owner Chetan Vyas has been fined one lakh rupees and has been directed to deposit this amount in the fishermen society. Not only this, the High Court in its judgment has also ordered that the cost of raising this cemetery should be recovered from Vyas.

From the Mumbai Municipal Register of Deaths, the Municipal Corporation admitted that a crematorium existed at the site prior to the notification of CRZ Rules in February 1991. Two funerals were held at the same cemetery on 25 December 1990 and 16 February 1991. This proves that this graveyard was there before the notification of CRZ. Therefore, the action taken by the Suburban District Collector without any enquiry, hearing or inspection has been declared illegal by the High Court.

The Bombay High Court has taken serious notice of the demolition of this cemetery without any hearing. Despite repeated orders to take action against illegal constructions, no action is taken. Then the High Court raised a question as to how the action was taken so promptly on the complaint of a resort driver, bypassing the legal process, and the action of Mumbai Suburban Collector Nidhi Chaudhary has been severely criticized. In one of the hearings of this case, Suburban District Officer Nidhi Chaudhary was directed by the High Court to appear, according to which she stood before the court.

What’s the matter? 

Chetan Vyas had complained that the crematorium of the Koli brothers was unauthorized on the beach of Erangal village in Malad, a suburb of Mumbai. The petition alleged that the crematorium was constructed in violation of Coastal Zone Regulation (CRZ). In the year 2021, the court Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), Collectorate and concerned officials of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation were directed to conduct a joint inspection there. Accordingly, he formed a squad and inspected the place. After that, the authorities submitted a report that the crematorium was constructed illegally and without necessary permission. Based on this report, the cemetery was demolished by the district authorities. The petition was heard on Monday before a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice Madhav Jamdar.

Was there a meeting or hearing with the people of that community while demolishing the cemetery? Were they given an opportunity to present their case? The High Court raised such questions. At that time, the court was told that no such hearing was held. Taking serious note of it, the violators are ignored even though some cases are heard before the Collector’s office by the High Court. Then how did you take urgent action in this case without following any procedure of law?, is the administration of the Collectorate like this? This was asked by the High Court.

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