The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted an interim relief to Our Lady of Remedy Church, Poisar, Kandivli West, which has locked horns with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation over acquisition of a part of its cemetery to widen the adjacent SV Road to its original width of 90 ft. A bench comprising justices V M Kanade and Justice M S Karnik stayed the BMC’s notice till the hearing is complete and asked it to file an affidavit by May 4 in response to the plea made by the church.
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The BMC’s notice to the church, issued on February 20 under Section 299 (acquisition of open land or land occupied by platforms within the regular line of a street) of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, sought to demolish the wall, the cross and around 7 m of the cemetery. The church had told the BMC that it was a 400-year-old grade II heritage structure and that if it wanted to undertake the widening work, it should look at expanding the road from the other side. The civic body had clarified that this was not feasible.
Sizing it up: Lawrence Fernandes, deanery counsellor for Bombay Catholic Sabha, shows the spot till where the BMC plans to acquire the cemetery
Fr Jon D’Souza, parish priest and trustee, then filed a petition in the HC, stating that the church had already given away over a period of time around 40% of its land for public use.
“They (the BMC) want to demolish the wall and acquire the land of the cemetery and demolish the cross. The cemetery can’t be dug as religious sentiments are attached to it. The bodies are semi-decomposed… You can’t desecrate the place. This
will create law and order problems and the intended road will disturb religious sentiments,” said the petition.
The parishioners had held a silent protest against the BMC’s notice on Tuesday.
The BMC had warned the church that if it did not allow the demolition, it would have to approach the court.