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Allowing unauthorised places of worship is ‘insult to god’: SC

“You have to demolish such structures. We know you are not doing anything. None of the states are doing anything. You have no right to allow it. God never intended to obstruct the path. But you are obstructing the path. It is an insult to god,” a Bench comprising Justices V Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra observed.

The remarks were made as the Bench pulled up states and union territories for their failure to comply with its directions to file affidavits spelling out steps they have taken to remove illegal religious structures from public roads and pavements. 

The apex court gave them a final chance with a direction to file the affidavit within two weeks failing which the Chief Secretaries of the concerned states will have to be present personally to explain non-compliance of various directions of the apex court passed from time to time since 2006.

“We don’t appreciate this type of attitude,” the Bench said, adding that the orders and directions of the apex court “are not passed for keeping in the cold storage.” “If this is the attitude of state administrations and the chief secretaries, why do we pass orders? Do we pass orders for keeping in cold storage? If you have no respect for court orders, we will deal with the states,” the Bench said.

The Bench, which was about to pass an order for summoning the Chief Secretaries at the first instance, modified it after a plea was made by some lawyers appearing for various states. The apex court was hearing the petition filed in 2006 in which directions were passed to states to remove unauthorised structures, including places of worships, from public places.

It had on March 8 received a contempt petition against Chhattisgarh government, following which it had asked the state to ascertain the factual position on the basis of allegations made in it.

The apex court had directed all other states’ counsel to take instructions with regard to the compliance of the interim orders passed by it from time to time in this regard.

The Bench in its order noted that despite the March 8 order “none of the states have filed affidavit.” 

“What is the compliance? What is the survey of your state? How many temples, mosques, churches and other (illegal places of worship) are there,” the Bench asked the counsel appearing for one state.

At the outset, the Bench said contempt action would be initiated against the chief secretaries if the directions were not complied with by the states.

When the Bench was informed by the Centre that states should be named in alphabetical order about the non-compliance of its directions, it said the question should be who has complied with the order and filed the affidavit. The apex court was initially of the view to direct the state chief secretaries to appear before it to “answer why they have not complied with directions of this court,” but modified it later on the plea of counsel, saying chief secretaries of those states, which fail to file affidavits, will have to appear before it.

The Bench made it clear that the affidavit should contain the action taken report and verifications and the compilation has to be supplied to Additional Solicitor General P S Patwalia, who represents the Centre and was complaining that none of the states has filed their affidavit.
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