Religious structures cannot encroach on public land, Delhi HC asks AAP government to prepare plan to relocate

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Published: November 24, 2017 6:36:39 PM

Religious structures cannot be allowed to encroach on public land for private gain and at the expense of others' rights, the Delhi High Court said today and asked the AAP government to prepare a plan to relocate them.

Religious structures, AAP government, private gain, Delhi High Court, public land, DDAReligious structures cannot be allowed to encroach on public land for private gain and at the expense of others? rights, the Delhi High Court said today and asked the AAP government to prepare a plan to relocate them. (Image: IE)

Religious structures cannot be allowed to encroach on public land for private gain and at the expense of others’ rights, the Delhi High Court said today and asked the AAP government to prepare a plan to relocate them.  A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar called for a plan to relocate encroachments, including some religious structures which have come up around a 108-feet tall Hanuman statue in Central Delhi.  The court, while making it clear that it has protected the statue located near Karol Bagh here, said the encroachments around it “cannot be allowed to stand”.  The bench said the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has undertaken several projects involving relocation of temples from various parts of the national capital region.

“Therefore, there is no reason that religious structures cannot be relocated when they are encroaching on public land,” the court said while hearing several PILs in connection with unauthorised constructions and encroachments in Karol Bagh and the Ridge areas of Delhi.  On the encroachments in the Ridge area, the DDA, represented by senior advocate Rajiv Bansal, said it has recovered about 1177 square yards and handed it over to its horticulture department.  Bagga Links, a popular car dealer whose parking area boundary wall was demolished by DDA to recover the 1177 square yards, had moved the bench against the action saying it had only received a notice for payment of damages.

While issuing notice to the DDA and other authorities on the dealer’s plea challenging the demolition, the court asked from where did it get permission to build a wall as it has not shown any document which entitled it to do so.  The bench also said the payment of damages does not create a legal right of possession or occupation.  It said that prima facie it was not satisfied that the dealer has any “legally enforceable” right over the land.  The DDA and the other authorities have to file their response to the dealer’s plea before the next date of hearing on December 12.

During the hearing today, the municipal corporations of Delhi informed the bench that from December 1, all information relating to encroachments and unauthorised constructions would be put in the public domain.  Earlier data on the issue would be addressed on a warfooting every month, the corporations assured the court.  Meanwhile, the Delhi government and the police said that probe was underway into who erected the 108-feet long idol, other unauthorised buildings, the funding of such activity and the persons controlling the encroachments.  The court asked them to file a report on it before the next date.

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