Bombay High Court slams Parsi trusts for failure to highlight threat to shrines due to Metro 3 work

Bombay-High-CourtMumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday pulled up two Parsi trusts for their failure to highlight the “threat” to their temples situated in South Mumbai. The five trustees, who had approached the court, claimed that ongoing drilling work for the Metro III corridor poses a threat to their temples, which are heritage structures. They had also claimed that drilling alignment work can also ‘desecrate’ their holy fire.

The court considered their contentions and asked the five senior-most directors of MMRCL to grant a hearing to representations of the community. Expressing shock over the conduct of the trustees, the vacation bench presided over by Justice Shahrukh Kathawala and Justice Ajay Gadkari slammed them for not approaching the court before.

“It is shameful that the trustees failed to move this court despite the community crying foul. We think if the trustees are unable to take a proper stand on such an important issue, then they should better resign from the posts,” the judges said. The scathing observation was made after the judges were informed that the high priests of the community had met CM Fadnavis and issues pertaining to security and safety of the temples were discussed. The judges were irked to note that during this discussion with the CM, none of the trustees voiced any grievance before the CM.

According to the petition filed by trustees of two temples, drilling work is being carried out near Azad Maidan. The high priests also highlighted the fact that the tunnel (for which the drilling is going on) would directly pass under the two fire temples and the Atash Behrams (sacred fires). They have claimed that the tunnel would be routed under the fires at Princess Street and Kalbadevi. In their petition, the high priests expressed apprehension that the tunnelling work would desecrate their holy fires and also lead to drying up of their holy wells.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL), on the other hand. refuted the claims of the community. It informed the judges that tunnelling work would not affect the community’s temples or holy fires and assured the judges that it would not carry out drilling beneath the sanctum sanctorum of the temples.

Having considered the submissions advanced, the judges directed MMRCL to grant a hearing to the representation of the community through the trustees of the two temples, high priests and also some chosen representatives of the Parsi community. Posting the matter for further hearing on June 14, the judges asked MMRCL to hear the contentions of the community and till then avoid drilling under the temples. To this, MMRCL itself said that till the next date, drilling work would not be carried out under the said temples.

Published on Free Press Journal