New Delhi, December 20: The Delhi High Court Monday directed the Delhi government to remove an illegally constructed temple, put up on public land in South Delhi, noting that no religious activity was going on there.
Once the Supreme Court had already directed that no unauthorised construction will be permitted in the name of temple or gurdwara, there is no question why the encroachment be not removed expeditiously so that it is not misused, the high court said.
Justice Rekha Palli directed the Delhi government to remove within 10 days the encroachment which is illegally constructed by someone in front of a property in South Delhi’s Defence Colony area and asked Delhi Police to provide assistance in this.
The court remarked, “The whole city is taken for a ride for so many years… When the Supreme Court and high court find encroachment, where is the question of religious committee? Where does it (LG note) say the court cannot order demolition of illegal structure?”
To this the counsel for Delhi government said the court can order demolition but if the agencies have to take a decision, they have to first take permission from the religious committee.
The court also asked the SHO of the concerned police station to ensure that the idols put inside the illegal structure are placed in a nearby temple so that sanctity of the idols is preserved and sentiments of Hindus should be respected.
The high court allowed the petition seeking removal of encroachment, in the form of an illegally constructed temple, in front of a property in the area.
During the hearing, advocate Anupam Srivastava, appearing for Delhi government and police, said that a proposal would be again sent to the religious committee headed by the Lieutenant Governor to recommend demolition of illegal structures, for seeking consent to demolish the structure.
The court perused a note by the Lieutenant Governor and said it nowhere says that no demolition should take place if it is contrary to the orders passed by a competent court.
It said that in 2009, the Supreme Court had passed an order that no unauthorised construction will be permitted in the name of temple or gurdwara or any other religious place.
“Now the respondent cannot take shelter that the matters to be sent to the religious committee as it is a religious structure. I may note that the unauthorised structure is not being used as a religious structure as there is no priest and no offering given there,” the judge said. The court noted that earlier the Delhi government had submitted that the authorities plan to demolish the illegal structure on October 4, however, now it has referred the matter to the religious committee.
It had earlier pulled up the Delhi government for not fulfilling its stand to demolish the illegally constructed temple and referring the issue to the religious committee for its approval, saying this will lead to chaos and more encroachment. It had said the religious committee, which is headed by the Lieutenant Governor, may be needed if there is a big temple, but if somebody puts a few bricks overnight then referring it to the panel will not serve the purpose.
The plea said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, somebody trespassed and illegally constructed a temple on public land, that is a footpath, at Bhishma Pitamah Marg, right in front of the petitioners’ property.
The petition claimed that taking advantage and shelter of the illegal construction, people gather there and indulge in rowdiness and gambling and the encroached structure impedes full access to the petitioners’ building.
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