HC takes up PIL on unauthorised temple

Appoints advocate commission to submit a report

Taking a serious note of authorities becoming mute spectators to emergence of structures in the name of freedom of religion on government lands, Telangana High Court on Wednesday said the State government cannot keep quiet on such matters.

Hearing a PIL plea challenging construction of a temple in Rock Gardens of Madhavapuri Hills of Ameenpur on city outskirts, the HC ordered for an advocate commission to conduct field visit and submit a report to the court. A bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy directed the temple committee to pay ₹50,000 to the advocate commission member Praveen Reddy.

Details like when was the temple constructed, how much money was spent for it, if it was erected in the space meant for park, the temple plan and other documents should be presented to the advocate commission for perusal, the bench said. Directing the commission to furnish report by March 13, the bench posted the matter to March 16 for next hearing.

Counter affidavit

Expressing dissatisfaction over the government’s counter affidavit in the petition, the bench said it did not contain the report submitted by Sangareddy District Collector. The affidavit also had no information about the report presented by Ameenpur Tahsildar to the Collector. The authorities washed off their hands by serving notices to the temple committee, the bench observed.

The authorities failed to furnish information on the status of the case filed by temple committee in Sangareddy court. The bench remarked that it was surprising that officials served notices to temple committee in 2017 and 2020 while the temple was built in 2014.

“If the government did not respect and enforce the law, who would do it? Is the government unable to protect its own land?”, the bench said. By taking firm steps in Ameenpur temple matter, the government should send signals about its policy to entire State on erection of religious structures in government lands, the bench said.

The government counsel responded stating that the counter affidavit would be withdrawn and a fresh one would be filed with complete details. He apologised to the bench for failing to incorporate all information about the case in the affidavit. Municipal Administration and Urban Development Principal Chief Secretary Arvind Kumar, appearing before the bench, said that government had decided to conduct a comprehensive survey on religious structures erected illegally. The bench sought to know how many such illegally constructed religious structures were pulled down since the government came out with an order on the matter 10 years ago. It remarked that government should take stringent action against construction of religious structures in government lands and prove that even god was not above the law.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 9:14:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/hc-takes-up-pil-on-unauthorised-temple/article30925849.ece

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