With ascendancy of British in India after the 1757 Battle of Plassey and the gradual decline of Dutch, the English had converted the Dutch warehouse at Patna as collectorate and since then it had quietly served as the fountainhead of Patna administration, till the Nitish Kumar government decided to demolish the centuries-old dilapidated building to create space for erecting a new collectorate building.
The decision to demolish the building had made Dutch embassy in Delhi write to the Bihar government offering help, in collaboration with NIT-Patna, to make the building reusable with repair and restoration work. Meanwhile, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) moved the Patna HC challenging the demolition and pleaded for preservation of the ‘heritage’ building.
INTACH moved the Supreme Court as the Patna high court refused relief. Appearing for Bihar government, senior advocate Maninder Singh told a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant that the Archaeological Survey of India has inspected the building and had said it was of no heritage value and that it was unsafe to keep it standing.
Singh said that at many places the roof has fallen and argued that every building of yester years could not be categorised as ‘heritage’ building for the purpose of preservation.
The bench agreed with the Bihar government and told INTACH counsel Roshan Santhalia that “the building had no connection with freedom struggle and doesn’t have any architectural significance. Can all colonial period buildings be categorised as heritage buildings without these having any significance for the country?” The bench dismissed the appeal paving way for demolition of the building.