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Devaraja Market PIL: Petitioner’s woes


I draw your attention to the news item titled “High Court quashes PIL against demolition of  Devaraja Market” (SOM dated Aug. 10, 2023) wherein your reporter has said:

“A Division Bench, headed by Chief Justice Prasanna B. Varale and Justice M.G.S. Kamal, issued the ruling on Aug. 8 while rejecting a petition filed in 2020 by D. Shrijay Devaraj, Raja Chandra, Gouri Satya, Yashaswini Sharma and N. Niranjan Nikam.” The PIL was actually filed in Dec. 2020 by four of us —  Prof. D. Shrijay Devaraj Urs, Gouri Satya, late Niranjan Nikam (died in Feb. 2012) and R. Raja Chandra.  Ms. Yashaswini Sharma was never a petitioner.

However, many persons who are passionate about conservation of Heritage Buildings like Yashaswini Sharma (Author & Architect), Meera Iyer (Convener, INTACH – Bangalore & Author), Prof. Ravindra Vasavada (Architect & Historian), Dr. S. Raghunath (BMS College) and others have helped me in pursuing this litigation. I am also indebted to my legal team of Dr. Aditya Sondhi and Nidhi Venugopal who worked pro-bono and stood steadfastly for our cause.

Your reporter has also said that the petitioners would question the HC order in the Supreme Court (SC). Yes! But is it the only alternative? Sadly, in my over four decades of experience in multifarious litigations, being a litigant is not a happy choice! Take the instant case! After granting stay on 21.12.2020, the case meandered on for 3 years and saw three Chief Justices (CJs) and two Acting CJs along with a host of  puisne Judges presiding over the matter. 

In a sensitive case like this where any nature-induced catastrophe could have caused  immense harm to our cause and there were times one was tempted to withdraw the case out of mental agony it was causing. A stay means official apathy and a detached nonchalance saying the matter is sub-judice. There would be no preventive maintenance or proactive dialogue to resolve the logjam. So approaching SC may be even worse.

Assuming our SLP is admitted and stay is granted, one can forget the case to be even listed for many years.  Thus it is only a last resort under the circumstances.

However, there was a silver lining after the recent elections to Karnataka Legislative Assembly. I would like to draw your attention to a recent report in SOM dated July 27, 2023, where Chamaraja MLA  K. Harishgowda is on record saying he is committed to preserving the heritage structure of Devaraja Market and will take all necessary steps to ensure it is not demolished under any circumstances.

I urge Chamaraja MLA Harishgowda (The market was constructed by Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar in 1890-91 and it would be appropriate an MLA of Chamaraja Constituency should rise to the occasion !) to immediately call all stakeholders, come to an amicable solution and help us preserve the heritage of city for our future generations.

We are ready to co-operate and render all necessary help with expertise to bring back the glory to Mysore and restore the crumbling structures like the Markets, Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion etc. Where there is a will there is a way.

I am in the evening of my life but I have promises to keep,  And miles to go before I sleep… Alas ! one lives on hope!

– R. Raja Chandra, Bengaluru, 12.8.2023

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