Willing to give land at same site for reconstruction of Ravidas temple: Centre tells SC

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October 19, 2019 8:00 AM

The Ravidas temple was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) following the Supreme Court's direction, which had led to massive outcry and protests in the national capital.

Centre tells SC that it is ready to give 200sqm land at same site for reconstruction of Ravidas temple in Delhi.

The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that it was willing to hand over land measuring 200 sq m to devotees for construction of Guru Ravidas temple in South Delhi but with certain conditions. A bench of justices Arun Mishra and S Ravindra Bhat took on record the offer made by Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, and asked parties seeking construction of the temple to submit objections, if any, by October 21.

At the outset, Venugopal said he had held consultation with all parties including devotees and government officials and Centre has agreed to give the same piece of land considering sensitivity and faith of devotees for the site.

“That same 200 square metre area of the site can be handed over to a committee of devotees for construction of temple but with certain conditions,” Venugopal said, adding that five out of seven petitioners, who approached court against demolition of temple have agreed to the proposal.

He said that only two of the petitioners are not agreeable to the proposal but “the entire belief and faith of the devotees of Guru Ravidas is at the site where he stayed and therefore in the interest of peace and harmony we want to return the site to the devotees”.

Counsel appearing for one of the petitioner, who have objected to the proposal said that they need to see the offer and file their response.

The top court asked the parties to file their response by Monday, if any and said that it would pass order in the matter. The top court on October 4, had asked the parties involved in a plea seeking permission to rebuild the Guru Ravidas temple in Delhi’s Tughlaqabad forest area to come back to it with an amicable solution on a better location for the temple.

The temple was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) following the court’s direction, which had led to massive outcry and protests in the national capital. The top court had said it respects everybody’s sentiments but the law has to be followed. The court had earlier questioned the maintainability of a plea asking as to how could it entertain the petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution seeking permission to construct a temple demolished on its orders.

The petition filed by two former members of Parliament — Ashok Tanwar and Pradeep Jain Aditya — had sought enforcement of their right to worship which, they alleged, “was being denied to them due to demolition” of the temple and ‘Samadhi’ in Tughlaqabad. The former parliamentarians had said that several facts were suppressed during the hearing of a suit before the apex court for removal of encroachment of surrounding areas. Their counsel had submitted that there were over six crore followers of Guru Ravidas and they have a fundamental right to worship at the said place.

On August 27, the two former parliamentarians from the Congress party had moved the apex court seeking its nod to re-construct the temple, saying it is a pious site and prayers were held there for the last 500-600 years.

The DDA had demolished the temple pursuant to the orders of the apex court, which had on August 9 observed that “serious breach” had been committed by Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti by not vacating the forest area as earlier ordered by the top court. The temple’s demolition had led to a series of protests in places such as Delhi, Punjab and Haryana and the apex court had on August 19 directed the authorities in these areas to ensure that no law and order situation is created politically or otherwise. The top court had earlier warned against politicising the temple’s demolition and said it would initiate contempt proceedings against those provoking protests and demonstrations.

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