Nagpur: In an exercise aimed at sending a “positive message” to High Court here and also saving the face of top NMC boss, the Anti-Encroachment Department undertook a massive drive and removed encroachments near Meetha Neem Dargah on Thursday (June 23). The NMC squad, along with a posse of policemen, reached the spot at about 12.30 pm and started getting rid of the encroachments on the day the Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar was directed by the High Court to remain present in the court for “committing aggravating contempt of court” by disobeying various directions contained in the orders passed since 2009 regarding encroachments in and around religious places in city.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Municipal Commissioner had suspended the Assistant Commissioner (Ward Officer) of Dharampeth Zone Rajesh Karade holding him responsible for encroachment in the form of a permanent pandal right on the road near Meetha Neem Dargah situated adjacent to Vidhan Bhavan. The Karade had turned a blind eye towards warnings by Sitabuldi cops and office of DCP Zone-2 over erection of the encroachment coming up near the religious place.
The Assistant Commissioner (GAD) Prakash Varade has reportedly been given additional charge of Dharampeth Zone, it is learnt.
A Division Bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice V M Deshpande had taken a serious note of inaction by Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar and Assistant Commissioner (Ward Officer) of Dharampeth Zone Rajesh Karade in taking steps to remove the permanent pandal near Meetha Neem despite prompt reminders from Sitabuldi Police and DCP Zone-II office. The Court had observed that prima-facie both officers have “committed aggravating contempt of court.” The High Court also slammed the two officers for not acting on the warnings from police authorities. The cops had alerted the NMC about the erection of a permanent pandal near Meetha Neem Dargah after they received a complaint in this regard.
Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice V M Deshpande while summoning Hardikar and Karade on June 23, issued show cause notice to them asking as “to why action should not be taken against them for having committed aggravating contempt of this Court by disobeying various directions contained in the orders passed since 2009.” The officers came under fire for not implementing the orders passed by the High Court in the past by which High Court had directed authorities not to permit any temporary or permanent structures under the guise of religious function to obstruct smooth flow of traffic.
Earlier orders directing Municipal Commissioner to fix the responsibility on zonal officer was also followed only in breach.
Subsequently, acting on the court directives, the Municipal Commissioner Hardikar suspended the zonal Ward Officer Rajesh Karade on Wednesday (June 22), a day before both of them had to appear in the High Court for disobeying the earlier orders of the court.