MUMBAI: Bombay high court has slammed BMC for granting permission during the Covid-19 pandemic to a Navratri pandal in Dahisar (East) for celebrations organised by former corporator Prakash Darekar and patronised by his brother Pravin Darekar, opposition leader of the Maharashtra Legislative Council.
A bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla on Friday heard a petition filed by local resident Girish Mittal for direction to the R-North Ward to demolish it. The judges, in their order, said the pandal was put up for Navratri celebrations between October 17 and 20, 2020, and organised by Prakash Darekar, also president of Mumbai Housing Federation, under “guidance” from Pravin Darekar.
BMC’s advocate informed the court that permission had been granted to erect the pandal. The judges noted from the photograph it is clear that the entire pandal with decorative pillars, statues, photo frames, stairs and flower pots was installed on a footpath and sitting arrangement was provided outside it as well.
They said there is “gross violation of the SOPs” (standard operating procedure) issued by the government as a crowd can be seen inside the pandal, masks are not properly worn as required and no social distancing is maintained. “In the first place, we are surprised as to how during the pandemic, permission to carry out such activities was granted by the corporation, and even if such permission was granted on prescribed terms and conditions, why such activities were not monitored by the concerned authorities,” they added.
Noting that the pandal has been removed and the relief sought by Mittal has become infructuous, the judges disposed of the petition granting him liberty to file a public interest litigation impugning the permissions granted by BMC to organisations or individuals, including corporators, MLAs and MPs, to put up such pandals on the footpaths of Mumbai as well as in the suburbs “causing great inconvenience to the members of the public, not only during the pandemic but even in normal circumstances”.