HC raps UP govt over Sahara demolition, govt to file SLP

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Lucknow, Jun 19 (UNI) In a major jolt to Uttar Pradesh government, a division bench of the Allahabad High Court today gave reprieve to Sahara India staying the demolition in the Sahara Shaher by Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) late last night and ordered restoration and compliance report in next 24 hours.

In response to the court order, state government is preparing to move the Supreme Court to file the Special Leave Petition (SLP). ''It could be filed any time from now,'' a senior state government official told UNI.

The HC bench also directed the government to go for demolition work of illegal constructions only between 0900 hrs to 1700 hrs and bring a law to enforce this ruling.

The Division bench comprising Justices D P Singh and Balkrishna Narayan, on a petition filed by the Sahara, observed that there was no urgency seen on the part of the LDA to go for such massive demolition drive in the night.

They asked the state Chief Secretary to restore the demolition in favour of the petitioner and submit a compliance report in the court during the next 24 hours.

The court also asked the respondents to file the counter-affidavit within six weeks and thereafter rejoinder by the petitioner in three weeks.

During the hearing the court took strong exception to the manner in which LDA arbitrarily used its power to demolise the site in the late night. ''In European and other countries it is in general practise that demolition work is done only during the office time.

The state government should pass a law to ensure that no demolition work is done after the sunset or before the sunrise,'' the court commented.

Gaurav Bhatia, the counsel for the petitioner Sahra India, had argued that the entire process was malafide in intentions.

Earlier, the court had summoned the LDA VC along with relevant documents.

The LDA admitted that they had not sent a prior notice of emolition to the petitioners as they had agreed in verbal to remove the encroachment themselves.

Sahara, had moved the HC early this morning after LDA razed down some portion of the Sahara Shaher late last night to clear alleged encroachment for a 30 metre zonal road mentioned in the city's master plan.

The encroachment drive which started on Tuesday night, continued on Wednesday when the officials razed all the construction within about 500 metres of the boundary wall on the northern side of the Sahara Sahar.

LDA VC Ram Bahadur told UNI here today that the action taken by the authorities was justified as the area had encroached the zonal road already in the master plan.

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