The Centre informed the Bombay High Court on Monday that it is considering the take over of late nuclear scientist Homi Bhabha's bungalow in upscale Malabar Hill, to convert it into a museum, in public interest.
The bungalow 'Mehrangir', which is located in South Mumbai, was sold to a businessman for Rs 372 crore during an auction recently.
Homi Bhabha, the father of Indian nuclear programme, once resided at the Mehrangir bungalow. Pic/Suresh KK
"The Office of the Prime Minister of India has written a letter to the Department of Legal Affairs to present the central government's viewpoint before the court. The office of the Prime Minister is exploring possibilities of adopting appropriate proceedings to acquire Homi Bhabha's property to retain his memory," an affidavit filed by the Under Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) said.
The affidavit also stated that DAE has urged the Maharashtra government to declare the bungalow as a protected monument under the Maharashtra Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1960. It added that making the bungalow a museum-cum-exhibition centre would inspire the youth of India and would be a great tribute to Homi Bhabha.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah posted the matter for further hearing on June 30.
The bungalow was auctioned by its current owner, the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) here last week and an undisclosed buyer made the winning bid of Rs 372 crore for the 17,150 square feet (1,600 square-metre) property.
Incidentally, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) employees represented by Atomic Energy Workers and Staff Union of BARC President Prashant Worlikar as well as President of National Forum for Aided Institutions Employees (Department of Atomic Energy) Raam Vitthal Dhuri, had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to halt the bungalow's auction.
"The late Homi Jehangir Bhabha was a renowned person throughout the world and an asset to our country. He spent all his lifetime in the bungalow and also ran his office from here," the petition said.
"Bhabha is the father of Atomic Research Centre in India. In such circumstances, the bungalow owned and possessed by the late Homi Jehangir Bhabha can very well fall under the four corners of being a heritage structure and is required to be preserved," the petition said.
The PIL has sought directions to the Chief Secretary (Maharashtra), Chairman of the Heritage Committee and National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), to preserve and declare the three-storey 'Mehrangir' bungalow as a heritage structure.