Temple can’t usurp land, God is ‘omnipresent’, says Madras high court

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“God is omnipresent. God does not need a specific place for his divine presence. It is the fanatic who is the root cause of all problems to divide people in the name of religion (sic),” Madras high court said on Friday, refusing to stall the removal of a temple standing on public land.

“The petitioner, in the garb of setting up a temple, cannot usurp highway property, which is meant for public use irrespective of creed, caste and religion,” a division bench comprising Justices S Vaidyanathan and D Bharatha Chakravarthy said.

“If the petitioner is so particular in facilitating devotees to worship Vinayagar, it is open for him either to allot his unencumbered land or the land, if any, available to the temple, and thereafter shift the idol to that place,” the judges said.

The court passed the order on a plea moved by S Periyasamy seeking to quash a notice issued by the state highways department for the removal of a temple in Veppanthattai, in Tamil Nadu’s Perambalur district.

The petitioner, a trustee of the temple, said the mandir had existed for more than three decades and was constructed without causing any obstruction to the free flow of the public and transport.

Refusing to accept the same, the court said, “Even though the petitioner has stated that the temple was constructed three decades ago and the land belonged to the temple, what prevented him from producing necessary documents to establish his case?”

The submission that the temple has not caused any hindrance to the public or free flow of traffic all along and is used purely for the purpose of worship cannot be accepted for the reason that, firstly, the petitioner has failed miserably to produce documents to prove that the land is under the control of the trust, the judges said.

This apart, if the submission of the petitioner is accepted, then everyone will encroach upon public land and come with the plea that there is no obstruction to any public and, therefore, they should be permitted to continue their illegal occupation, the court added

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