SC seeks report on demolition of illegal shrines

PTI, NEW DELHI | 05 July 2013 21:15 IST

The Supreme Court today asked all states and Union Territories to give within six weeks details about the number of religious structures on encroached government land that have been razed or relocated by them and those that are still standing.

The court also asked them to issue notifications for putting in place "policy/rules" for removal or relocation of illegal religious structures built on public land and sought action against officials who allow such constructions in future.

Though Goa government had identified 979 religious shrines, it was finally shortlisted to around 300 structures, which are illegal and posing danger to traffic. 

"Each state should give details as to how many illegal religious structures have been removed as on June 30, 2013 and how many are left. They should also state the steps taken for removing or relocating them. The affidavit shall be filed within six weeks from today," a bench of justices R M Lodha and S J Mukhopadhaya said.

The bench also asked the states to give a copy of their affidavit to the Centre for preparation of a consolidated national data as to how many illegal structures have been demolished or relocated and how many of them are still existing.

During the hearing, the court, which posted the matter on August 30, said the officials who will now allow such structures to come up in their areas should be punished.

Earlier this year, the bench had asked all the state governments to remove unauthorised constructions including places of worships from roads and public places.

It had also restrained the states from granting permission for erecting statues or construction of any structure at public places which obstructs traffic movement, saying that citizens have the right to move freely and it cannot be taken away.

The court had said that instead of using the funds for glorifying someone, why can't  that be used for uplift of the poor.

The remarks were made by the bench while dealing with an application against the Kerala Government, which has granted permission for erection of a statue of the late Congress leader N Sundaram Nadar on the traffic island at Neyyattinkara junction on a national highway in Thiruvananthapuram district.

 The bench had said the state government will immediately halt further work on the statue till further orders.

"Until further orders, we direct that status quo be maintained where the statue is permitted to be installed," the bench had said.

"Henceforth, the Kerala government would not grant any permission for statue or construction of any structure at public places, roads or places of public utility," it said.

The bench clarified that "this would not apply for installation of traffic utility structures like street lights etc" which facilitate smooth traffic movement.

 It had said without disturbing the law and order situation, these unauthorised structures should be removed.

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