Parsis take Atash Behram fight to SC
File special leave petition challenging high court order; hearing to take place on December 7
After the Bombay high court (HC) on November 30 allowed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) to continue with the construction of the tunnel underneath the two Atash Behrams, the legal team representing the Parsi community filed a petition regarding the matter in the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday.
Apart from appealing against the HC judgment, the legal team comprising Advocate Zerick Dastur has sought a stay on the Metro construction work. "We have filed a special leave petition (SPL) challenging the Bombay HC order in the Atash Behram case before the Supreme Court. The matter was mentioned before the Chief Justice of India. The SC has placed it for urgent hearing on Friday," Dastur said.
During the hearing on November 30, the bench comprising Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice R G Ketkar had turned down Senior Counsel Navroz Seervai's request to extend the stay on Metro construction work for a couple of weeks until they could file a petition in the SC.
The community members are of the opinion that while the HC did not find their argument that the spiritual circuits of the Atash Behrams would be breached if the tunnel passed from underneath the fire temples "convincing and logical", the judges did not even consider the structural aspect of it. "We are not against development. To resolve this issue amicably and to prevent further delay of the project, we had proposed eight alternative stations. But MMRC vehemently opposed it and even the court did not consider the same," said Jamshed Sukhadwalla, the chief petitioner in the case.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, another member of the legal counsel said that while the grounds for the case would remain the same as mentioned in the writ petition, the SLP referred to the findings of the HC order.
"We were hoping that there would be some appreciation for the evidence. The HC judgment, however, has not considered any of the evidence that we put on record. This has been mentioned in the petition," added the member.
Meanwhile, the HC judgment has allowed MMRCL to start construction of the tunnel underneath the Anjuman and Wadiaji Atash Behrams, but has added certain conditions. Apart from ensuring that no damage is caused to the Atash Behrams, the MMRC has been asked to adopt control-blasting method for boring tunnels, installing equipment to monitor levels of vibrations and water level of the wells among others.
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