Bill tabled in Karnataka Assembly to protect illegal religious structures

Updated - November 19, 2021 08:25 pm IST

Published - September 21, 2021 01:10 am IST - BENGALURU

BJP leaders speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Monday.

BJP leaders speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Monday.


Caught between the compulsion to abide by a court order on the one hand and deal with the outrage from a section over the temple demolition in Nanjangud on the other, the BJP government on Monday chose the legislation route to protect religious structures built illegally in public places.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai tabled the Karnataka Religious Structures (Protection) Bill, 2021, in the Legislative Assembly to protect religious structures from the ambit of the court’s directive to demolish structures “constructed on public places without the authority of law”.

Cut-off date

The Bill marks the day of commencement of the proposed legislation as the cut-off date and makes it clear that only structures built before this date will get protection from the impact of court orders. “It is considered necessary to provide for the protection of religious construction in public places before the date of commencement of this Act in order to protect communal harmony and not hurt the religious sentiments of the public,” the Bill stated. At the same time, it mandates that the authorities should not allow the construction of any religious structure in future in public places. The Bill gives protection from the court order to all religious structures — temples, churches, mosques, gurdwaras, bodh vihars and more.

The decision to draft the Bill, instead of filing a petition before the Karnataka High Court, was taken at a meeting of the State Cabinet presided over by Mr. Bommai on Monday.

At the meeting, several Ministers are learnt to have appealed to the Chief Minister to issue “strict directions” to Deputy Commissioners not to demolish unauthorised temples in public places.

The High Court had told the State government to ensure the implementation of a past order of the Supreme Court on illegal structures in public places.

To pacify the protesting Hindutva outfits, sources said, the government would allow the BJP as a party to rebuild the temple at Nanjangud. A large number of activists of VHP, Hindu Jagarana Vedike, and other organisations had staged protests in Mysuru against the government, opposing the Nanjangud demolition. There are more than a thousand illegal religious structures in public places in the State, and the Supreme Court had issued orders in 2009 to “demolish/relocate/regulate” unauthorised structures in public places.


Mayoral polls

Meanwhile, the Cabinet also decided to issue a notification on conducting elections to the posts of Mayor and Deputy Mayor in three urban local bodies (Kalaburagi, Belagavi, and Hubballi-Dharwad). The three city corporations went to the polls recently.

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