TN: HC dismisses PIL on Gokhale Hall demolition

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Chennai, Sep 3: Madras High Court has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition that sought to prevent the demolition of the 94-year-old Gokhale Hall but stayed the demolition of the building for a week to enable the petitioner to file a fresh suit in the City Civil Court.

While passing orders on the PIL filed by Mr T C Shankar Raju, Justice P Jothimani asked the petitioner to approach a civil court.

''It has been made clear that if the petitioner approaches the civil court within seven days, the court shall take up the matter and pass appropriate orders,'' the Judge said.

If the petitioner fails to approach the civil court within seven days, then the management of the Gokhale Hall would be free to take action as per law, the Judge added.

The matter relates to the Young Men's Indian Association's (YMIA) decision to raze the Besant Memorial Building, which was the venue of Anne Besant's Home Rule Movement. The movement was to denounce the British rule in India and achieve the national demand for self-governance.

After the present set of office-bearers decided to demolish the building and entrusted the demolition work to a private party, the petitioner, a life member of the YMIA, filed the PIL to save the structure.

While admitting the petition on August 11, Justice A Kulasekaran had stayed the demolition works. However, even before the order could be communicated, a portion of the building had been razed and much of the interiors and wooden fixtures had been removed.


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