The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Carve-up curb on army
- Court stays transfer of Maidan parcels in beauty mission

The Maidan cannot be carved up and parcelled out. Nor can constructions be allowed on the greens.

Calcutta High Court on Friday passed an interim order restraining the army from transferring possession of slices of the Maidan for beautification to any company or individual till further orders.

'This court is of the opinion that the present order will not, in any way, affect the army's plans for planting trees on the Maidan. But it shall not allow any kind of constructions on the Maidan, nor transfer possession of parcels of the Maidan to any third party,' ruled the division bench of acting Chief Justice Ashok Kumar Ganguly and Justice Tapan Kumar Dutta.

The bench was hearing a petition by high court lawyer Rudrajyoti Bhattacharya.

Acting Chief Justice Ganguly and Justice Dutta asked the respondents to file affidavits on the issue within two weeks. They gave another week's time to the petitioner to file his reply, and fixed the next hearing after four weeks.

Bhattacharya's petition challenges the army's authority to distribute plots to various private organisations for the beautification of the Maidan.

'The army is only the custodian of the Maidan and, as such, does not have any right to allot portions of the vast grounds to certain chosen parties, entrusting them with the responsibility of beautifying the same portions. The army must not be allowed to act like the owner of the Maidan,' he stated in his petition.

The lawyer for the Central government contested the petitioner's position and said the army was acting as custodian of the Maidan and not giving away any portion of it.

'It is true that a few parties have come forward with proposals to beautify certain patches of the Maidan, but the army's defined policy is not to allow construction of any structure, or setting up of any plaque or board on the Maidan,' the lawyer argued.

Any unauthorised construction on the Maidan would be demolished within seven days of its detection, he claimed.

The lawyer for a private enterprise, named in Bhattacharya's petition as the developer of a large slice of the Maidan, challenged the maintainability of the case. He claimed that the petitioner had no specific idea about the plans that the army and his client had drawn up to beautify the Maidan.

To this, the bench replied: 'Let us hear the petition first, the issue of maintainability of the case can be addressed later.'

According to high court sources, an NGO has also moved a petition in support of Bhattacharya's petition.

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