Chennai: Clearing the decks for Chennai corporation to remove a temple built at the court entrance in memory of former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran, the Madras High Court today said courts cannot "tolerate construction of religious structures by encroaching public road."
"Courts are concerned with removal of encroachments on the public road and it is no matter whether it is Temple, Islamic Shrine or Church," a Division Bench, comprising Justice Sathish K Agnihotri and Justice K K Sasidharan, said in its order, dismissing a petition filed by Kantha Srinivasan, a trustee of Needhi Karumariamman Temple near the High Court main entrance.
"The court cannot tolerate construction of religious building by encroaching public road. Those who want to establish Temple, Church or Shrine must locate it in private lands. Public Road is for people and it is not for doing business or to construct religious structures," it said.
It rejected the contention that the temple in memory of MGR was in existence for the past 27 years.
The petition had sought to forbear Chennai Corporation from in any way "interfering" with the temple.
The Corporation had issued notice on Nov 28, 2010, to remove the structure within a period of 15 days. However, as the matter was pending before the court no action was taken.
Refusing to forbear authorities from razing the structure, the judges said: "There is no dispute that the petitioner has got a right to establish religious institutions of her choice and to worship. However, she has no right to construct a temple by encroaching on public property."
"She, without any kind of permission from the local body, constructed a temple by violating the laws with impunity. She has no regard to the law of the land. She wanted to perpetuate the illegality by pleading that the temple has been in existence for the past more than 27 years. The court cannot be a party to such violation," the court said.
Pointing out that the woman has no right to the land where the temple is located, the judges further said: "The fact that the temple has been in existence for more than 27 years would not give a right to her to continue the illegality."
The court had earlier ordered appropriate action on a PIL filed by K R Ramasamy, a social activist, praying for immediate removal of the temple.
The order was, however, reviewed with a modified direction that authorities afford an opportunity of hearing to her and pass appropriate orders on merits.