MMRCL counsel, former state advocate-general S G Aney, made this submission before a bench of acting Chief Justice of Bombay high court Naresh Patil and Justice R G Ketkar on Friday, as he concluded three days of arguments at the hearing of a petition seeking realignment of the tunnel to bypass two of Mumbai’s highest grade fire temples, Anjuman and Wadiaji Atash Behrams, near Princess Street.
His submission brought relief to around 200 Parsis, who had packed the court room at 3pm, for the two-hour hearing. MMRCL said its engineers were discussing the issue and the expert flown in for the meeting earlier this week had gone back. The petitioners and trustees of the temples have sought an almost a four-metre shift for their fundamental rights to be met.
Aney said, “The actual idea has to be put up, for certain specification. Architect Hafeez Contractor will do the drawing. There will be further discussion. If it can happen it will be… we are hopeful something will be done.’’ But, he said, “Assuming it can be shifted by two metres, and if ultimately the wall and one extra room have to be shifted and reconsecrated,’’ he hoped the community would take a leaf from a “beautiful story” narrated by former President APJ Abdul Kalam in his book ‘My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions’ about how the nation’s space programme started from the premises of a church in Thumba, Thiruvanathapuram. Aney read out in court excerpts from a chapter.
“If the community could show it is willing,’’ Aney said, “This city, beholden to Parsis for their tremendous, tremendous charity, will forever be grateful.’’ Aney also said each day the work is stayed, it is costing the Metro Rs 4.5 crore.
Aney emphasized that “concept of proportionality’’ is what the court may have to keep in mind when deciding on fundamental rights under Article 25, which deals with freedom to practice, profess and propagate religion. The test is which right, that of the community or of the public at large, will benefit the pubic the most. He invoked the philosophy of law from British jurist Jeremy Bentham, who said it has to be “the greatest good for the greatest number’’.