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Gujarat HC: No Automatic Heritage Status for Old British-Era Properties

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LI Network

Published on: 27 September 2023 at 13:43 IST

The Gujarat High Court, during a hearing on Tuesday, emphasized that not all old properties from the British era can be automatically classified as heritage structures.

This observation came in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed seeking protection for the 121-year-old structure known as Pushpakoot, who was the former residence of Indian cricketer Vijay Hazare.

The bench, consisting of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha Mayee, pointed out that the petitioner trust had not conducted any research to establish whether the bungalow, where Hazare lived for nearly four decades, qualified as a heritage structure or one protected under the Gujarat Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1965.

The court criticized the petitioner trust for bringing the matter to court solely based on a “newspaper report” suggesting that the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) might demolish the structure.

The Chief Justice emphasized that merely making a few representations to the authorities would not suffice if the petitioner was genuinely interested in preserving such properties, and it should be more like a comprehensive movement.

The court’s observation stemmed from the fact that the petitioner had taken no action to protect the structure before the news report of its impending demolition.

Furthermore, the court clarified that it was not within the petitioner’s purview to request the government to declare someone’s property as a heritage site, as there is a specific procedure for such determinations.

The bench also inquired about whether the structure had been documented in any book or possessed historical significance, but the counsel representing the petitioner could not provide clear answers.

Consequently, the bench adjourned the matter until October 4, giving the petitioners time to provide the necessary evidence or documentation.