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SC allows Uttarakhand to demolish 4 illegal religious structures in Haridwar

  • 'State should be permitted to demolish the illegal structures by 31.05.2021,' said SC
  • Uttarakhand government had moved the apex court against the 8 October order of Uttarakhand High Court

The Supreme court on Thursday extended the time till 31 May for Uttarakhand government to demolish the four illegal religious structures on public land in Haridwar.

The apex court bench headed by Justices Ashok Bhushan observed in its order, “that ‘Kumbh Mela’ is to commence in 2021 and will end on 15.04.2021, we are of the view that the State should be permitted to demolish the illegal structures by 31.05.2021."

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Uttarakhand government submitted that the State has undertaken to commence proceedings for the demolition of the four illegal structures in Haridwar and will remove them by 31 May.

An intervention application filed by ‘Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad’ was allowed by the bench comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah. The application stated that the structures should not be demolished. However, the court observed in its order that the intervenor does not dispute that structures have been made on the land belonging to the Irrigation Department. He submits that the lands are allocated during ‘Kumbh’ period to the Parishad.

The three-judge bench observed, “Be that as it may, allotment, if any, is temporary and any permanent structure could not have been constructed and the same is to be demolished."

The court order stated the details of the four illegal structure as - Nirmohi Akhada, Beragi Camp, Nirmani Adi Akhada, , Bhaiyadas Digamber Akhada, and Niranjani Akhada, Gangeswar all at Beragi Camp in Haridwar.

The state government had moved the apex court against the 8 October order of Uttarakhand High Court. The order refused to extend the time till the culmination of ‘Kumba Mela-2021’ for demolishing the illegal structures at Haridwar.

The High Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the issue after top court’s December 7, 2009 order in which it was directed that no unauthorized construction shall be carried out or permitted in the name of a Temple, a Church, a Mosque or a Gurdwara etc. on public streets, public parks or other public places.

On 31 January 2018, the top court had observed that implementation of its 2009 order should be supervised by the concerned High Courts, and remitted the matter to the respective High Courts for ensuring implementation of the orders in an effective manner.

In compliance with the 2009 order of the top court, the state government framed a policy on May 17, 2016 called ''The Uttarakhand Policy for Removal, Relocation, and Regularization of Unauthorized Religious Structures on Public Streets, Public Parks, and other Public Places, 2016''.

The Uttarakhand High Court had on January 2, 2020, while hearing a suo motu case noted that the policy decision of the Uttarakhand government, taken on May 17, 2016, had remained unimplemented for the past more than three and a half years.

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