No Encroachment on Public Roads in the Name of Religion

Allahabad High Court: Deciding on the matter of whether construction of a religious structure (Temple) and attempting to encroach upon the public land is a fundamental or legal right, the division bench comprising of Sudhir Agarwal and Rakesh Srivastava, JJ gave directions to the Uttar Pradesh Government and other officials, that no religious structure in any form, shall be allowed/ permitted to be raised on public roads and to remove any religious structure that were raised in public places from January, 2011 and to be shifted to Private Lands donated by beneficiaries.

The petitioners who were 19 in number filed an appeal stating that in the garb of constructing religious structures, like Temple, Mazar, Samadhi, Mosque, Gurudwara, Church etc., public roads (including highways), streets, pathways etc. are encroached upon, obstructing or creating hindrance in smooth movement of public including vehicular traffic. The Court observed that, “There is no fundamental or legal right to encroach upon a public road (including highway), street etc. and raise construction of any kind thereon. These unauthorized and illegal activities cause hindrance and interruption in free flow and movement of traffic including foot walkers. Every citizen has a fundamental right of movement and this cannot be allowed to be infringed by a few violators in public and apathy of State authorities.”

Therefore, the Court while disposing off the writ petition gave following directions:

  • Uttar Pradesh Government and other officials to ensure that no religious structure in any form, whatsoever, shall be allowed/ permitted to be raised on public road, street, pathway, lane etc. which is part and parcel of road etc. and belong to State.
  • If any such structure is existing and has been raised in the last five years, the same shall be removed forthwith and a compliance report shall be submitted by Collectors etc. of concerned Districts to Principal Secretary/Secretary of concerned department shall submit a comprehensive report to the Chief Secretary within next two months.
  • If any such religious structure has been raised encroaching upon public road (including highways), street, lane etc., before 01.01.2011, a Scheme shall be worked out and executed to shift the same to a private land offered by beneficiaries of such religious structures or persons responsible for its management or to remove it, within six months.
  • If any encroachment is made on roads, lane etc. after the judgment is passed on 10.06.2016 then the Deputy Collectors and Superintendent of Police of that area shall be responsible. The disobedience of the same shall be treated a deliberate and intentional disobedience to lower down authority of Court and would amount to criminal contempt.
  • District Magistrate directed to take immediate steps and take appropriate action within two weeks

 [Lavkush v. State of Uttar Pradesh,2016 SCC OnLine All 394 decided on 10.06.2016]

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