Litigation for Varanasi Heritage intensifies

Sunday, November 17, 2013

On Thursday, the Allahabad High Court in India published a key judgment relating to the the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) suit filed by the Kautilya Society, an Indian public interest organization, that accuses the State of Uttar Pradesh of negligence in protecting the heritage of the historic city of Varanasi. The dispute is increasingly polarising public opinion.

In the Court hearing of 8th November, the Varanasi Development Authority was supposed to explain why it compounded the four-floor new construction section in the rear portion of the historic Darbhanga Palace in Munshi Ghat, in spite of a law specifically prohibiting construction within 200 metres from the river Ganges.

The agenda was changed when the lawyer of Darbhanga Palace owners, the Aggarwal family, requested the Court to completely dismiss the PIL on the ground that the Varanasi administration had lodged two FIRs (i.e. criminal reports) against the Kautilya Society.

Vrinda Dar, in her role of Society Secretary, claimed that the FIRs had no connection with facts but are falsities for misinforming the public of Varanasi. She asked the Court to order an independent investigation on the allegations, so that she may receive protection from what she calls an “institutional harassment”.

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