The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Chief Secretaries of all the States to indicate in four weeks the number of unauthorised religious structures in public places removed/relocated or regularised pursuant to the policy framed by the respective States.

A Bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma gave this direction, while hearing a petition relating to unauthorised construction of temples, mosques, churches, gurdwaras in public parks, streets, and other public places.

In September and December 2009, the court issued directions to the States that henceforth no unauthorised construction should be carried out or permitted in the name of temple, church, mosque or gurdwara on public streets, public parks or other public places and asked them to frame a comprehensive policy to deal with the existing structures and to fix a time frame within which they could be removed/relocated or regularised.

During the resumed hearing, Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval informed the court about the filing of affidavits by the States in compliance with earlier directions.

Justice Bhandari told the ASG that the court order had the desired effect. “We are happy to learn that the States had fully complied with our order. We want to monitor it on a month-to-month basis for which we want the Chief Secretaries to file affidavits giving details of unauthorised structures removed every month.”

Justice Bhandari said “unless we monitor the implementation the whole purpose would be defeated and it will come to a grinding halt.”

Tamil Nadu led the States with 77,453 unauthorised religious structures in public places. It was followed by Rajasthan with 58,253 such structures, Madhya Pradesh with 51,624, Maharashtra with 17,385, Gujarat with over 15,000, Karnataka with 2,814 and Delhi with 52 unauthorised religious structures. Sikkim, Mizoram and Nagaland reported that they had no unauthorised religious structures in public places.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing after four weeks.

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