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The Allahabad High Court today pulled up the Lucknow Development Authority for demolition of Sahara Sahar during the night without prior notice and asked the Uttar Pradesh government to restore possession of land to the Sahara Group company. Taking strong exception to the demolition drive being carried out by LDA late last night, the Lucknow bench of the high court directed the state government not to carry out such drives after 5 pm and before 9 am. The division bench comprising Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice Balkrishna Narain passed an interim order on a writ petition by Sahara India Commercial Corporation Limited (SICCL) and gave the Chief Secretary a day's time to comply. Reacting to the high court's order, LDA standing counsel P N Gupta said the civic body would file an special leave petition in the Supreme Court against the order. "We have yet to receive a copy of the judgement. We will file an SLP in Supreme Court", Gupta said. In its order, the high court also permitted SICCL to carry out construction work to safeguard its property while asking the government to restore possession of land. Earlier, LDA's counsel contended that they had demolished structures at Sahara sahar to pave way for a road and as per the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning Act they could do so without serving notices. On behalf of Sahara, its counsel Virendra Bhatia contended that no further demolition should be taken and status quo should be maintained. The court also expressed anguish over the way in which LDA conducted the drive, especially demolition of portions of a hospital inside Sahara Sahar in which 15 patients were stated to be admitted. In a late night operation yesterday, a team of LDA and PWD demolished outer walls and watch tower of Sahara Sahar, which were alleged to be encroachments. LDA officials had said the civic authority was planning to construct a 30-metre wide road alongside Sahara Sahar but walls "illegally" built by the Sahara group was creating hindrance in the project.
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