2 Oct 2009

Construction of temples on public places no more: Supreme Court

Call it religious fundamentalism or build following of faith, but any form of devotion to God does not impute a compulsion upon the followers to build excessive number of temples or shrines to commemorate the faith, especially by encroaching upon the property belonging to others or on public land. However one can find an indiscriminate flooding of such temples and shrines on public land build without regard to safety standards, public inconvenience etc. Not just this, once built, these structures are sought to be perpetuated by defending their demolition or relocation with all physical power or even political might. In fact the continuous forbearing of such encroachments of public property are not a recognition of a feeble political will to take action but also show the lack of executive enforcement of the laws of the country which prohibit all such encroachment of public premises. 

Taking note of a news-report published by the Times of India in on May 2, 2006 to the effect that 1200 temples and 260 Islamic shrines had encroached on public space, the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad took cognizance of the matter and issued directions to the various Governmental authorities "to take immediate steps for removal of encroachment of religious structures on the public space without any discrimination and submit their reports".

The validity of this order passed by the Gujarat High Court came up for examination before the Supreme Court. However, before taking any action, the Court sought to response of the Government of India on the vital issue facing the public sentiment of the religious countrymen. The Solicitor General of India informed the Court that in a meeting of the Secretaries of all States of the country, the following consensus had emerged;

(i) No unauthorized construction of any religious institution namely, temple, church, mosque or gurudwara, etc. shall be permitted on public street/public space.
(ii) In respect of unauthorized constructions of any religious nature which has taken place in the past, the State Governments would review the same on a case by case basis and take appropriate steps. This will be done as expeditiously as possible.

Taking these account and acknowledging the "far-reaching implications and consequences" of its orders, the Supreme Court directed all the States of India to file their response on the issue and make their submissions for a final determination by the Supreme Court. 

The Court, meanwhile, directed that "henceforth no unauthorized construction shall be carried out or permitted in the name of Temple, Church, Mosque or Gurudwara etc. on public streets, public parks or other public places etc." and "in respect of the unauthorized construction of religious nature which has already taken place, the State Governments and the Union Territories shall review the same on case to case basis and take appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible."

The Court made all the District Magistrates accountable for the above directions, requiring them to file status reports of the action taken on these directions. 

One can only hope that from now on not only would the future constructions of such structures would not be permitted, but also the existing ones causing inconvenience would be removed or relocated. 

Have a look at the order passed by the Court.

January 2011 Update

This post reflects upon an interim order of the Supreme Court. We have been keeping a tab on the further proceedings. However as of January 2011 the matter has not yet been finally decided. What we have, however, as a sequel to the above post is the later order of the Supreme Court (dated 27.07.2010) which records the steps taken by the various State Governments on the directions of the Court. 

We hope to keep our readers posted of the developments as and when they take place.

1 comment:

prem said...

sir, in front of my house,in the public street they are construct and expanding temple which is annoying and disturbing our house. Regarding this i filed complaint twice to the coimbatore district collectorate, corporation .but all in vein till date no actions how do proceed legally pls advice