MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the civic administration to demolish a temple at Chira Bazaar with police protection by 5pm on Thursday, as there was no permission for its construction. The temple has been in existence since around 1985 and occupies 50 sq ft on a private plot in south Mumbai.

Justice S J Kathawalla, who passed the demolition order, did not accept the contention of Shree Sai Shraddha Trust, which manages the temple, that merely because it made payments to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for “assessment to property tax” from 2010, it was legal.

Cherag Balsara and Sameer Vaidya, lawyers for the trust, argued that the temple has been shown on a layout plan prepared by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority in 2010, and hence it was aware of its presence. The judge said a mere municipal assessment bill, nor a Mhada plan, cannot be relied on to contend that the structure is legal.

The mandal had moved the HC on Monday for prevention of coercive steps after BMC came last Thursday with its demolition team after an order of razing it passed by Justice K R Shriram last year. The BMC team found devotees present at the temple when it went to demolish it last week but it removed the roof. The trust said it had last December made a representation to BMC against the demolition and sought an intervention, saying it had complied with an earlier order of 2014, passed by the HC.

The temple case had traversed to the Supreme Court and back.

It was a dispute over trust property that started in 2011 between Pankaj Kapadia and others against Sachin Rahate, a member of the Sai Shraddha Trust, over the temple, alleged to be illegal.