State obligated to remove unauthorized constructions from public land, but if it is a religious structure, can State still be obligated to do so? Del HC addresses

Delhi High Court: Expressing that, the mere fact that certain encroachments represent religious structure cannot possibly detract State from its obligation, Yashwant Varma, J., held that, State remains duty-bound to remove all unauthorized constructions which may exist on public land.

Present petition brought to the attention of the Court encroachments having been made on a public pathway.

On 22nd November, 2021, counsel for respondent 1 had apprised the Court that the complaint had been taken cognizance of and forwarded to the Religious Committee.

In the present petition, the Counsel for GNCTD apprised the Court that the said Committee had addressed a communication to the Corporate and awaits further information and inputs in order to assess the steps which are liable to be taken.

Counsel for the Corporation apprised the Court that the requisite information had been duly transmitted by that authority and in any case if anything still remains, it shall, as in duty bound, provide all further information as may be sought by the Committee.

Petitioner’s counsel submitted that the stand taken by the respondents clearly evidences apathy and a failure to remove structures which are admittedly unauthorized.

Decision

High Court expressed that the state respondents remain duty bound to remove all unauthorized constructions which may exist on public land.

Further, the Bench remarked that,

The mere fact that those encroachments represent religious structures, a place of worship or are given the colour of a religious structure cannot possibly detract or dilute from that obligation.

Additionally, the High Court stated that, on a conjoint reading of the Circular as well as the decision in W.P.(C) 10949/2021, it is evident that all that the Circular intends to achieve is to ensure that the removal of encroachments is conducted in a structured manner and untoward incidents or a law and order situation being created avoided.

Matter to be listed again on 8-4-2022. [Kings Furnishing and Safe Co. v. Commissioner, WP (C) No. 12715 of 2021, decided on 14-3-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr Manish Kaushik and Mr Ajit Singh Johar, Advs.

For the Respondents:

Ms Mini Pushkarna, SC for NDMC with Ms Khushboo Nahar and Ms Latika Malhotra, Advs. Mr Santosh Kr. Tripathi, SC (Civil) for GNCTD with Mr Arun Panwar and Mr Siddharth K. Dwivedi, Advs. for R-3(SHO).

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