Allahabad High Court on Saturday ruled that land belonging to religious body can be used for public purpose. High Court made its remark while asking the Church of North India Association and NHAI to “work out modality” for “demolition or shifting” of a church for construction of a six-lane road. “Once there is public purpose for which land in question has been acquired, invoking provision of National Highways Act, 1956, then no relief can be accorded to the petitioner,” the court was quoted as saying by PTI, disposing of the plea of the Church of North India Association which had challenged August 17, 2012 notification by which four plots of land were acquired in Firozabad district for construction of a bypass connecting Agra with Etawah.
Earlier, a bench of Justices V K Shukla and M C Tripathi had said that in view of Christmas festivities, the structures should not be demolished “for the period of one month” but thereafter the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and Church Athaurites should “work out modality” for “demolition or shifting” of the same. A case was filed in the court by Church athurities contending that the impugned notification “hurts the sentiments and religious conscience of the Christian community” which violated the “right to freedom of religion” and the “freedom to manage religious affairs” guaranteed under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.
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In its plea, the petitioner had argued that acquisition of the land by NHAI violates the Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act which safeguards “all religious properties”. Later, the court refused to interfere in the petition challenging the acquisition of land belonging to the church and a graveyard in western Uttar Pradesh for the construction of six-lane road.