We will demolish illegally built temple: Delhi government

The Delhi government has told the Delhi High Court that the authorities plan to demolish an illegally constructed temple on a footpath, a public land, at Bhishma Pitamah Marg in South Delhi’s Defence Colony.

The Delhi government made the submission while responding to a petition by a man who had sought removal of the encroachment in front of his property at Defence Colony.

It said that the authorities were “conscious of its duty” and has already planned to demolish the illegal encroachment at the said site on October 4.

Necessary assistance

Advocate Anupam Srivastava, representing the Delhi government and DCP (South), also assured the High Court that the Delhi police will render the necessary assistance to the authorities to carry out the proposed demolition drive.

In view of the statement of the counsel, Justice Rekha Palli asked the authorities to submit a status report on the issue by October 8, the next date of hearing.

The man, in his petition, said during the COVID-19 pandemic, unknown person trespassed and illegally constructed a temple on the footpath in front of his property.

He stated that taking advantage and shelter of the illegal construction, people gather there and indulge in “rowdiness and gambling and suspected drinking of alcohol and consuming illegal substances”.

The petitioner said that the illegal structure and the gatherings behind it impedes full access to his property.

The petition cited the Supreme Court verdict in ‘Union of India vs State of Gujarat [(2011) 14 SCC 62]’ and the judgment of the Delhi High Court in ‘Bal Bhagwan vs Delhi Development Authority’ where the courts held that no encroachments should be permitted in the name of ‘place of worship’.

Futile efforts

The resident stated that several representations made to the authorities who engage in planning, designing, constructing and maintenance of government assets have failed to remove the illegal encroachment on public land.

He said that during the current pandemic, the encroachment may expand to adjoining spaces. The petitioner said that despite diligent efforts, he has not been able to identify the person or persons responsible for the encroachment.

The petition stated that around December 20 last year, he, his advocate and a partner upon visiting his property noticed some pictures and ‘murtis’ of gods erected by some unknown persons on a permanent structure made on the pavement around a tree next to a wall of his property.

Apart from creating a permanent structure around the tree, a large number of plants in large pots have been placed such that they create a corridor/pathway to the illegal temple from the main road.

“This encroachment and acts threaten to pose security threat not only for the petitioners but also for the public at large,” the plea claimed.

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