The Bombay High Court on Wednesday allowed employees of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to make a representation before the union government on their plea to declare the bungalow of nuclear scientist Homi Bhabha here as a national monument.
BARC employees, who had filed a PIL seeking to convert the bungalow into a museum, told a bench headed by chief justice Mohit Shah that they had documents to show that Bhabha’s bungalow ‘Mehrangir’ was more than 100 years old and as such the Centre can declare it as a national monument.
Accordingly, the bench disposed of the PIL, saying the petitioners can make a representation to the Centre for declaring the structure as a national monument.
The PIL was filed by BARC employees, represented by the Atomic Energy Workers and Staff Union of BARC president Prashant Worlikar and president of National Forum for Aided Institutions Employees (Department of Atomic Energy) Raam Vitthal Dhuri.
The sprawling sea-facing house of the father of India’s nuclear programme was recently auctioned to a businessman for over Rs 300 crore by the National Centre for Performing Arts, its custodian.
Earlier, the Centre had evinced keen interest in acquiring the mansion but later it told the court that under the central laws it could not acquire the property and hence had asked the state government to take over the structure.
The state government also said that the proposal to convert the bungalow into a heritage monument was under its consideration.
The PIL had demanded that the bungalow be declared a national monument.
“The late Homi Jehangir Bhabha was a renowned person throughout the world and an asset to our country. He spent all his lifetime in the bungalow and also ran his office.
“Bhabha is the father of Atomic Research Centre in India. In such circumstances, the bungalow owned and possessed by late Homi Jehangir Bhabha can very well fall under the four corners of being a heritage structure and is required to be preserved,” the petition had said.
Bhabha lived at ‘Mehrangir’, one of Mumbai’s landmarks, for several years before his death in an air crash in the French Alps in January 1966, following which his brother Jamshed Bhabha became the custodian of the property.
A patron of fine arts and culture, Jamshed looked after the property till his death in 2007 after which it was transferred to NCPA, an institution he had nurtured.