New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday warned
that Chief Secretaries will have to personally appear before
it if the states fail to comply with its directions to remove
or relocate unauthorised places of worship in public places.
A bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari also
granted two weeks time to the states to file their responses
on the issue.
The apex court was furious after noting that despite
several hearings many of the states have so far not filed
their affidavits and compliance reports on the issue.
The bench had earlier asked the states and Union
Territories (UTs) to ensure that no unauthorised temple,
mosque, churches, gurudwaras and other places of worship were
allowed to exist on roads, pavements or on other public
places as they were causing traffic snarls, congestions and
inconvenience to the people all over the country.
During the several rounds of hearing, the Centre and
the States/UTs had orally informed the bench that they were
willing to comply with the orders of the apex court as the
respective governments were also keen on clearing public
places of such unauthorised constructions.
However, many states were yet to file any compliance
report in pursuant to the assurances, inviting the wrath of
Tamil Nadu has the highest number of unauthorised
places of worship which stand at 77,450 followed by Rajasthan
(58,253) and Gujarat (15,000).
Arunachal Pradesh received the compliment of the "most
civilised" state from the bench when its counsel submitted
that it did not have a single unauthorised structure.
The Centre, states and UTs have said that they are
evolving suitable policies to ensure that these unauthorised
structures located on public roads, parks, streets are either
removed/relocated or regularised in due course of time.
The apex court had earlier in September, 2009, asked
the Centre and the states to take steps for removal/relocation
of unauthorised places of worship as they posed severe traffic
hazards and caused snarls.