Unauthorised religious structures: HC summons senior officials

The Delhi High Court has summoned two senior city government officials for their failure to comply with its earlier directions to draw up a time-bound action plan for removal of unauthorised religious structures.

Last Updated: Aug 25, 2013, 10:02 AM IST

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has summoned two senior city government officials for their failure to comply with its earlier directions to draw up a time-bound action plan for removal of unauthorised religious structures.

Referring to its previous order, the special bench of justices S Muralidhar and Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said the Chief Secretary and the Principal Secretary (Revenue) were directed to file separate compliance reports regarding removal of unauthorised religious structures and also negotiations concerning 34 other such structures but "no such compliance report has been filed".

"Given the repeated directions that have been issued by the court during the past several hearings, and considering the gravity of the matter, the court requires the Chief Secretary as well as the Principal Secretary (Revenue), GNCTD to remain present in court on the next date to explain why the directions were not complied with," the bench said and fixed August 26 for their appearance.

Earlier, taking note of the Delhi government`s Religious Committee report on the large number of unauthorised religious structures on government land in the city, the bench had issued certain directions.

It had directed the Chief Secretary to convene an urgent meeting to draw a time-bound action plan for removal of such structures and work out modalities to negotiate with people living nearby who are expected to object to the demolitions.

The senior officer was directed to hold within two weeks, a meeting of the Joint Secretary of the union Home ministry, the Principal Secretary (Revenue), GNCTD, the Vice Chairman of DDA, the Delhi Police Commissioner and the Special Secretary, Home Department, GNCTD to draw the action plan and file a compliance report.

The court has been monitoring the issue of encroachment on government land since 2005, after taking suo motu cognisance of media reports that nearly 43,000 acres of government land was lying unused and being encroached on by the land mafia and unauthorised persons.

In July last year, the court had pulled up the government for failing to take steps to completely survey the land in the city and also DDA for its failure to ensure that it was in possession of government land.

The bench had taken note of the DDA`s submission that it has been able to take possession of only 7.82 acres of vacant land with the joint efforts of the various authorities, the court had said "above progress in taking over possession of vacant land is highly inadequate".

In its affidavit, the DDA had submitted a list of 75 religious structures to the religious committee, which had recommended 40 structures to be demolished.

PTI