The bench of justices SA Bobde and RG Ketkar were hearing a PIL filed by activist Indur Chhugani calling for the demolition of such illegal chowkies that have been constructed.
Chhugani had filed a PIL in 2007 demanding the demolition of illegal police chowkies. An affidavit filed in 2008 by then-Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) Hemant Karkare, had stated that out of 388 police chowkies, 269 did not have the requisite permissions from the BMC. The affidavit had assured that the illegality would be rectified in a phased manner. Karkare’s affidavit had even thanked Chhugani for bringing the illegalities to light.
The court on Monday also asked for the status of illegal police chowkies, which haven’t been demolished in the rest of the State, to be returned within four weeks’ time. Chhugani hailed the directive, saying, “Today was a productive day. The country is improving little by little.
The order comes after a protracted battle by Chhugani against illegal chowkies across the city. Chhugani has on earlier occasions stated that many chowkies are used to put up hoardings, and their electrical supply was often sourced illegally. Karkare’s affidavit had stated that the electricity was borrowed from neighbours. An earlier bench of the High Court had implied that the fault was actually the Home Department’s, for its lack of planning in constructing the chowkies.
The court had also noted alleged threats by police officers who had threatened Chhugani that he would be ‘done away with in an accident’ if he pursued his case, which had distressed the court greatly. The court also noted that the BMC could not give a ‘blank cheque’ to the police to construct chowkies as per their whims and fancies.