The Delhi High Court on Monday ordered the Delhi government to remove an illegally constructed religious structure from a pavement in Defence Colony and asked the local police to shift the idols and pictures to a nearby temple within 10 days.
The court passed the order after hearing a resident’s petition for removal of the ‘chabutra’ – in which at least four idols were put by some unknown persons – placed around a tree near his home.
“We need to sort it out. It cannot go on like this. Somebody will put an idol somewhere. We have to respect the idols… You can take the idols to any temple,” said the court.
Justice Rekha Palli rejected the government’s stand that no demolition of any religious structure can take place without approval of the religious committee, and observed that the order passed by the Lieutenant Governor in this regard does not say that no demolition should take place even if the unauthorised construction is contrary to an order passed by a competent court of law.
“In the present case, once the apex court had itself way back in 2009 directed that no such unauthorised construction would be permitted by any State or UT in the name of temples etc, the respondents cannot be permitted to take shelter of the plea that the matter still needs to be sent to the religious committee,” said the court.
It further said that the report submitted by police itself shows that the subject encroachment is not being used as a religious structure as neither is anyone offering prayers nor is any priest present there. “I see no reason as to why the encroachment should be permitted to continue any further,” said Justice Palli, adding that the L-G’s order cannot be read out of context.
The court had earlier said that the Delhi government may not need the permission from the religious committee for demolition. “I don’t prima facie find that for such, two bricks being put on the road, you need permission from the religious committee, that can’t be the intent of your L-G’s order,” it had told the state.
The Delhi government had told the court that the religious committee has not given clearance for the demolition yet. It had earlier submitted before the court that even the land-owning agency wanted the structure removed but they have to follow the mandate of the religious committee first.