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Some portions of the Kinara Masjid, built on approach road to Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai, will not be razed for a week till the Maharashtra government decides on a plea of its regularisation, the Supreme Court said today.
The court, which had rejected a similar plea of the state government on July 3, modified the order on encroachment and ordered that a part of the mosque will be exempted from demolition.
"The counsel for parties acknowledges before this court that the order passed by the state government (on plea for regularisation) shall not be contested even if it amounts to part demolition of Kinara masjid," a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said.
Initially, the bench was reluctant to entertain the plea of Haji Ali Dargah Trust (HADT) that parts of the masjid be saved from demolition, saying it had upheld the order of the Bombay High Court on removal of encroachments from 908 square metre near the shrine.
Senior advocate Raju Ramchandran, appearing for HADT, said for the time being, the demolition be stayed and on the next date of hearing, he would establish that this part of the masjid was not on encroached land.
The court had taken note the notice issued on March 22 of Deputy Collector Encroachment Removal in which it was said that the area under encroachment was 908 square metres.
The bench said it was a "once in a life-time opportunity" for the Dargah Trust to get rid of encroachments from near the historic place as they were an "eyesore" and suggested that they should agree to the relocation of the masjid.
It then stayed the proposed demolition of some illegal parts of the mosque with a caveat that if the regularisation plea is dismissed by the state government, then nobody would oppose the consequential razing.
Earlier, the apex court, on July 3, had given last opportunity to the Maharashtra government to remove squatters within two weeks from the 908 square metre area earmarked in the High Court order and had warned that non-compliance would follow serious consequences.
The direction to the Mumbai civic body on the removal of encroachments was passed after the HADT, which had volunteered to remove the encroachments, expressed inability in removing the squatters from an area of about 500 square metres.
The Dargah trust had said out of total 908 square metres area, from where encroachments are to be removed, illegal occupants were still present in about 500 square metres.
The Haji Ali Dargah Trust had on April 13 agreed to remove encroachments on its own by May 8 and was later given some more time to remove the squatters.
The Haji Ali Dargah was constructed in 1431 in the memory of a wealthy Muslim merchant, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who gave up all his possessions before making a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The High Court had ordered the formation of a joint task force comprising the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and the Collector to remove the illegal encroachments on the approach road leading to the Haji Ali Dargah.
The High Court was hearing a petition filed by Sahayak, a socio-legal and educational forum, seeking immediate removal of the encroachments on the approach road to the dargah which is located on the sea.
The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai was of the view that the land on the approach road to Haji Ali fell in the Collector's jurisdiction and therefore the Collector should remove the encroachments.