SC agrees to examine plea against redevelopment of Sabarmati Ashram project

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SC agrees to examine plea against redevelopment of Sabarmati Ashram project

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine next week a plea against the redevelopment of the Sabarmati Ashram project in Ahmedabad.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana. Jaising submitted that there is an urgency in the matter, as construction has commenced and urged the court to provide her a virtual conferencing day. The bench, also comprising Justices Krishna Murari and C.T. Ravikumar agreed to examine the matter for hearing next. “List on a virtual hearing day”, said the bench.

The plea has questioned the resolution of the Gujarat government for the redevelopment of Sabarmati Ashram.

The plea has been filed by Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, against a Gujarat High Court order, which declined to interfere with the proposed redevelopment of the Sabarmati Ashram by the Gujarat government. The high court passed the order on November 25, 2021.

The Advocate General, representing the Gujarat government, had submitted before the high court that the Sabarmati Ashram covers an area of 1 acre which would remain untouched, and the idea was to develop 55 acres of land surrounding the Ashram.

The petitioner claimed that the significance of the land was not limited to the one-acre ashram, rather covered the entire property on the banks of the Sabarmati, which was more than 100 acres.

The high court had said: “We are of the considered view that the apprehensions expressed by the petitioner in this petition would all stand allayed as could be seen from the very impugned government resolution dated 05.03.2021 itself, and if there are any other individual grievances of the person who may be residing in the precincts they would always have their right to espouse the same in an appropriate forum and before the jurisdictional Court and for the said purpose, Public Interest Litigation cannot be ignited”.

The Rs 1,200 crore-worth Gandhi Ashram Memorial and Precinct Development Project has been jointly undertaken by the state and central government.

In the high court, the petitioner contended that the sum and substance of the grievance is that the redevelopment of Gandhi Ashram Memorial proposed by the Government of Gujarat vide Government resolution dated March 5, 2021, would transgress the existing working of Gandhi Ashram, known as Sabarmati Ashram, which is managed by Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust formed in 1951.

The plea, in the high court, added that it would cause imbalance and thereby the aesthetic value as well as the Gandhian principles enunciated by the “Father of the Nation” would recede to background or in other words Gandhi Ashram existing on the banks of Sabarmati River would eclipse by virtue of the said order.

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