The Supreme Court allowed the Uttarakhand Government time till May 2021 to Demolish 4 Illegal Religious Structures at Haridwar. The case pertains to a plea which arose from a Uttarakhand High Court order rejecting the State’s petition seeking an extension to demolish certain illegal structures in the State of Uttarakhand.
While one structure was in the Udham Singh Nagar district, the remaining four at Haridwar were built by Akharas connected to the Maha Kumbh.
In Court today, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, representing the State of Uttarakhand, pressed for an extension of the proposed Demolish 4 Illegal Religious Structures at Haridwar till after the Maha Kumbh.
Constructed in 2010, these structures are expected to be used during the Maha Kumbh held at Haridwar, which happens once every 12 years and is to take place next between January 2021 and April 2021, it was submitted.
In their petition, the State averred that any attempt to Demolish 4 Illegal Religious Structures at Haridwar at this stage would escalate religious tensions in the State, especially as deities were housed in the religious structures during the Kumbh.
Therefore time was sought until May to demolish these structures, with the State pointing out that the Maha Kumbh will end by April 15, 2021.
“The State undertakes to commence the proceedings for demolition of the 4 illegal religious structures in Haridwar in the month of May 2021 and will remove them by 31.05.2021”, read the State’s plea.
Acceding to the State’s petition, the Court allowed the State time till May 31 next year to Demolish 4 Illegal Religious Structures at Haridwar.
The Parishad had sought that the structures not be demolished at all. During the proceedings today, the Counsel for the Parishad admitted that the structures in the Haridwar area were built on government irrigation land.
In 2018, the Supreme Court had directed States to take action to remove illegal religious structures in their territories, giving the High Courts superintendence over the demolition.
The Uttarakhand State Government’s petition before the Uttarakhand High Court seeking an extension of time to carry out the demolition of five religious structures was rejected and immediate demolition ordered. The State government had submitted that out of an identified 739 structures only 5 remained to be demolished.
Aggrieved, the State moved the Supreme Court for relief.