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SC sets aside NGT ban on Social Functions at 'Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh’; Decides to Monitor its Beautification

SC NGT Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh
Aggrieved by the judgment and order of the National Green Tribunal, Central Zonal, Bhopal passed on November 05, 2014, whereby it had imposed a complete ban on all the activities in the “Sisodia Rani ka Bagh”, an 18th-century historical site near Jaipur, Rajasthan (hereinafter Monument), the appellant had appealed to the SC, for which the division bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and S. Ravindra Bhat has pronounced its verdict on May 11, 2020, in the matter of “the Director, Department of Archaeology and Museums, Jaipur and Anr. v. Ashish Gautam and Ors.”

The Bench vacated the ban and proceeded to pass several guidelines. It also proposed that it will monitor beautification and further developmental work of the garden itself.

The Court in its verdict dated May 11, 2020 noted:

“….it ('Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh’) has historical importance and is entirely enclosed by a pakka structure. It does not disturb the forest area though the Monument may be recorded as forest. It would not be appropriate to permit the use of the Monument to hold various functions during the night after 8.00 P.M. The tourist timings are 8.00 A.M. to 8.00 P.M. During that time, considering the importance of the historical Monument and it is in encircled structure by a wall and its potentiality there cannot be any objection for its being used for multipurpose appropriate activities. At the same time, there is in place a noise restriction, the same has to be strictly observed.”

 

Background of the Case:

On February 08, 2020, the Department of Art, Literature, Culture, and Archaeology had declared “Sisodia Rani ka Bagh” as protected vide notification. Thereafter, the Rajasthan General Development Department had transferred the Monument for supervision to the Department of Archaeological and Museums. 

Ceremonies like marriage and other events used to be held in the Monument for which certain conditions were specified later. 

One Ashish Gautam filed a writ petition before the High Court of Rajasthan by way of Public Interest Litigation, praying to issue appropriate directions about the safety and security of the wildlife in the Reserve Forest Area and further directions for restraining the use of laser lights, loud music and fireworks in the Monument. 

The High Court of Rajasthan had thereafter

transferred the matter to the NGT. By way of impugned judgment and order, the Tribunal had held that the Monument is part of the forest area and directed that no permission should be granted to organize social functions like marriages, etc. and for the use of fireworks, loud music in the Monument. Defendant Department of Archaeology and Museums, Jaipur had filed an appealed before the SC. 

To this, the Appellants argued before the SC that the blanket prohibition imposed would adversely affect State tourism and render the entire Monument of no use. Allowing the appeal, the bench passed the following directions:

(i) The Monument may be used for appropriate multipurpose activities between 8.00 A.M. to 8.00 P.M. only. No activity to be permitted after 8.00 P.M.

(ii) The use of laser lights, loud music, and fireworks is ordered to be completely restrained.

(iii) Musical and other fountains to be maintained and to be kept in working order.

(iv) Other conditions imposed by the Department be observed strictly.

(v) Let requisite supervisory and other staff/gardeners, etc. be dedicated to maintain and look after the area.

(vi) We direct that a Consultant be appointed for further beautification of the area and requisite horticultural development and an additional project plan be prepared and placed on record.


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