MMRCL V/s ‘Save Our Atash Behnrams’ Movement Update: Bombay High Court Appoints VJTI To Conduct Independent Survey

On Wednesday, 25th August, 2018, Bombay High Court Justices, Oka and Chagla have ordered VJTI to conduct an independent survey of the two heritage Parsi structures, Anjuman and Wadiaji Atash Behrams. The said report shall be produced by VJTI within 10 days. In the meanwhile, the court has upheld the interim relief granted in May, and has extended the same until 8th August, 2018.

The hearing at the Bombay High Court on 24th July, Senior Counsel Navroz Servai emphasised that the two structures hold immense value to the fundamental tenants of the miniscule Zoroastrian community, and added that the petition itself mentioned that the structural heath of the two buildings was ‘unsatisfactory’, in keeping with the age of these structures. However, the opposition for MMRCL, lead by Senior Counsel, S. Aney, argued that they would take utmost care to ensure no damage was suffered by the two buildings. Finding the argument to be based merely on reassurance, the court ordered MMRCL to rope in an independent, professional agency, to carry out a survey to ascertain the structural health of the two structures.

Sr. Counsel, Servai suggested names of three independent agencies – IIT, VJTI and UDAI – to be considered by MMRCL, of which VJTI has been finalised. The Technological institute is said to audit the short as well as long term consequence of the Metro III project on the structures and produce a report within 10 days. Parsi Times is pleased to share that owing to the appeal in our last week’s edition, over twenty-five mobeds and numerous community members attended the hearing and sent out a strong message of unity still being an integral part of the Zoroastrian community, especially when it comes to religious causes.

Speaking to Parsi Times, key petitioner, Jamshed Sukhadwalla said, “I thank the community, and particularly the mobeds for their support and for expressing their solidarity. VJTI has been appointed to examine the impact of the proposed metro construction including tunnelling work and the construction of the proposed Kalbadevi station, on the Atash Behram structures and the wells. We hope to move forward with the backing of your prayers.”

The next date for the matter to be heard in the Bombay High Court will be on Monday, 6th August, 2018. Speaking to Parsi Times, Advocate, Er. Zerick Dastur said, “The Petition raises serious issues in connection with the spiritual sanctity and structural security of the two Atash Behrams. The High Court has prima facie found force in the concerns expressed in the petition. What is heartening to see is that the community stands united on this issue and is speaking in one voice.”

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