Varanasi Ghat PIL hearing in Allahabad High Court on 9 November 2013

On 8 November 2013,  the Allahabad High Court judge bench, comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Arun Tandon, heard the PIL filed by the Kautilya Society on the Varanasi Ghats. On this hearing, the VDA was supposed to submit a response to queries on the irregularities of the Darbhanga Palace, made in the Allahabad High Court Order of 9 October 2013. The Darbhanga Palace is included in a list of 57 buildings officially declared by VDA as illegal constructions in violation of the Government Order prohibiting new constructions within 200 metres of banks of the River Ganga. The VDA had also submitted this list to the Allahabad High Court in May 2008.

Darbhanga Palace in Varanasi – before demolition (2001), after new constructions (2013)

On the 8th November hearing, the VDA submitted an affidavit stating that the new four-floor building made in the rear portion of the Darbhanga Palace was an authorised construction. The VDA argued that the rehabilitation of the Darbhanga Palace was as per the map it had sanctioned in 1997 and 2005 and that no new construction had ever been made in the premises of this building. On the contrary, in the PIL hearing of 9th October 2013, the VDA had confirmed that the Darbhanga Palace owners had not complied with the conditions that were laid down in their order sanctioning the rehabilitation of the Palace building.

On the 8th November hearing, the owners of the Darbhanga Palace also submitted an affidavit. They requested that the PIL, filed by the Kautilya Society in 2005, be dismissed in view of the FIRs (criminal cases) that had been filed against the petitioners of the PIL, i.e. the Kautilya Society and Vrinda Dar (who defends the PIL in person). They argued that the criminal cases lodged against the Kautilya Society and Vrinda Dar demonstrated that (i) the PIL was filed in private interest rather than in public interest and (ii) the credibility of the organisation was under suspicion. In its order of 9th November 2013, Allahabad High Court gave the petitioner three weeks to respond to the affidavits submitted by the VDA and the owners of the Darbhanga Palace.

The next hearing of the PIL in the Allahabad High Court has been fixed for 18 December 2013.

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See the compete list of  the Orders by the Allahabad High Court on the Public Interest Litigation –  Year: 2005 –  Number 31229

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