Setback to KCR: HC sets aside Telangana cabinet decision on Irrum Manzil

Hyderabad: Delivering a severe blow to Telangana Government’s efforts to raze down the heritage building Irrum Manzil and build a new Assembly building in its place, the Telangana High Court on Monday set aside the State Cabinet resolution in this regard and held that Irrum Manzil cannot be touched as it is a heritage building with protection of law.

The Division Bench of the High Court comprising of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Shameem Akhter delivered a 111-page judgment to this effect on Monday evening after hearing arguments on both sides elaborately spread over weeks. The bench allowed Writ Petitions filed by Deccan Archaeological and Cultural Research Institute and one Mir Asghar Hussain and partly allowed certain other petitions filed challenging the decision of the Government.

Holding that the Government has ignored the fact that the identity and character of a city are defined by its heritage and architecture, the Court reminded that the World Heritage Convention, 1972 imposes a duty upon the State to protect and conserve the cultural heritage by integrating it into comprehensive planning programmes. It came down heavily on the Telangana State Government by stating that “the State cannot afford the luxury of forgetting that the destruction of heritage building will rob its people the essence of their identity, and will deprive the city its sense of uniqueness. While it is important to plan for the future, it is equally important to protect, to preserve and to promote the past.”

The High Court referred to the arguments advanced by the Additional Advocate General that the Court should restrain itself from interfering in the policy decision of the Government by way of judicial review and asserted that the Court is within its powers to undertake such judicial review in cases where the policy decision suffers from arbitrariness, flouting of law etc. It concluded that “…in the process of making the decision, the State has ignored various essential provisions of law, essential procedures established by law, the directions issued by this Court, and has overlooked important factors. The said decision is, therefore, clearly an arbitrary one. Thus, the Cabinet decision dated 18.06.2019 is legally unsustainable”. It accordingly set aside the verdict, much to the relief and glee of conservationists and heritage lovers of Hyderabad and beyond.

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