Delhi High Court Refuses To Halt Demolition Of Temple Encroaching On Road

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The Delhi High Court has refused to interfere with the demolition of a 55-year-old Kali temple which was found to be “unauthorised” and obstructing the free flow of traffic at Mayapuri Chowk in New Delhi.
Justice Prathiba M Singh permitted the removal of the idols and other religious objects from the temple by the priest and placing them in other temples, as directed by the Religious Committee in the matter, and said after May 20, the Public Works Department (PWD) was free to carry out the demolition activity.

The court’s order came on a petition by Durga P Mishra, the priest and the caretaker of the temple, who sought to quash a notice dated April 25 issued by the PWD as well as the minutes of the meeting of the Religious Committee which took the decision to demolish the “Kali Mata Mandir”.

“As per the minutes of the Religious Committee meeting, the committee has come to the conclusion that the temple structure is unauthorised and is situated on the main road. It is also obstructing free flow of traffic and thus had directed the removal of the said unauthorised religious structure,” said the court in its order dated May 11.

“In view of the fact that a decision has been taken by the Religious Committee after considering all the relevant factors and PWD is giving effect to the same, this Court is not inclined to interfere with the demolition of the temple structure in the present petition,” the court said.

The petitioner contended that although the temple was built on public land, it did not affect the flow of the traffic in the area.

It was stated that the problem of traffic was because of the vehicles which are parked behind the temple in the shopping area.

Considering the sketch and the photographs placed before it, the court observed that it was “clear” that the temple was on “government land” and had encroached upon the footpath for pedestrians as also the road, which is not permissible.

It further noted that the because of the location of the temple “in the corner of two roads i.e. one main road and one arterial road”, the “smooth flow of the traffic was bound to be impeded”.

Asking the local police to render full assistance in the process of demolition in order to maintain law and order, the court ordered, “After 20th May, 2023, the PWD is free to carry out the demolition and remove the unauthorised construction. No impediment shall be caused by the Petitioner or anyone on behalf of the Petitioner in the same”.

“In view of the nature of the religious structure, the Petitioner is permitted to remove the idols and other religious objects in the temple within one week for the same to be placed in other temples as directed by the Religious Committee,” it said.

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