In a breather for the Adarsh Housing Society here, the Bombay High Court today said that before taking any "drastic step" like passing an order for demolition, it will first hear the society and the Environment Ministry.
"Anything which is illegal needs to be demolished. We agree with that, but at this stage we would like to first hear the arguments to satisfy our judicial conscience. Demolition is a drastic step," said a division bench of justices Ranjana Desai and RG Ketkar.
The court was hearing the petition filed by the society, challenging the demolition order passed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in January.
The ministry ordered the demolition of the 31-storey building after concluding that it was unauthorised and had violated several norms. The society had got three months' time to file appeal.
The high court today posted the matter for hearing on April 27. But before that, the judges observed, "We are assured that the MoEF would maintain status quo until the court decides the case. Nothing drastic will happen. In case it does, the society can rush to the court immediately."
In any case, the building is empty. There is no water and electricity supply. So the society is not going to get any benefit if it is not demolished. We are not saying MoEF does not have a good case. Maybe after hearing the arguments we would direct demolition but before passing any direction, the court needs to hear the case."
Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambata, appearing for MoEF, said that Adarsh did not take any permission or clearance before the construction, which started in 2003.
"They never came for permission. The building is illegal and needs to be demolished."