The Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the state goverment to remove the statue of former Chief Minister late Arjun Singh in Bhopal as well as all other statues at public utility places that were installed on or after January 18, 2013.

The Supreme Court had passed an order in the matter of Union of India v. State of Gujrat and others (SLP (C) 8519/2006) on that date. The Supreme Court had passed an interim order against the erection of statues at spaces reserved for public utility while stating that the High Court will have the jurisdiction to proceed in the contempt of any of the orders passed by the Supreme Court.

The High Court also imposed a cost of Rs 30,000 on the state and others and directed that statues should not be installed in such places henceforth.

"The respondents, including Municipal Corporation, Bhopal to forthwith remove the statue of Late Shri Arjun Singh, former Chief Minister of the State of Madhya Pradesh from Major Nanke Petrol Pump Tri-junction (Link Road No.1, T.T. Nagar, Bhopal), including platform," the Division Bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Purushaindra Kaurav directed.

"The state is directed by a writ of mandamus to remove all statues erected on public roads, pavements, sideways and any other public utility place at any village, town or city situated within MP, which had been erected on or after 18.01.2013 (the date of restraint order passed by the Apex Court in SLP (C) 8519/2006 (Union of India Vs State of Gujarat and others)," the Bench directed.

The Judgment also contains a direction restraining the respondents by way of writ of prohibition from installing any statue on public roads, pavements, sideways and any other public utility place situated in any village, town or city in the state.

It imposed a cost of Rs 30,000 on the respondents, which included the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary (local self government) Urban Administration and Development Department, the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police of Bhopal.

The Judgment says that the said Rs 10,000 from this amount must be paid to the petitioner through digital transfer, while the remaining Rs 20,000 must be deposited with the High Court Legal Aid Committee, Jabalpur, for wasting the precious time of the Court in dealing with this avoidable piece of litigation.

The Bench observed that the "state and corporation need to be reminded that they ought not to equate themselves as individual litigants in an adversarial litigation especially when defending a PIL".

The Court praised petitioner by saying that he was doing what the state ought to have done, and pulled up the respondent/corporation for "leaving no stone unturned to "malign the petitioner and belittling the genuine public cause raised herein.

The Court allowed the PIL filed by Advocate Greeshm Jain, challenging the installation of a 10-foot tall statue of former Chief Minister late Arjun Singh at Major Nanke Petrol Pump Tri-Junction (Link Road No.1 TT Nagar Bhopal) for obstructing free flow of traffic.

Click here to read/download the Judgment

With PTI inputs