Upholding the concept of national integration on the eve of Republic Day, the Delhi High Court dismissed a plea by residents of the Bengali-dominated Chittaranjan Park in South Delhi opposing allotment of land in their area to a non-Bengali Buddhist Mission.
“The mere fact that CR Park is dominated by Bengalis cannot justify the denial of an allotment of land, on equitable basis, to other communities,” ruled Justice S. Muralidhar in a judgment on Monday.
“In a residential colony in an urban metropolis, any attempt by members of the dominant community of that colony to exclude members of any other community from access to public space and reserve such space to themselves must be frowned upon. Such a move will defeat the objective of a true integration of populations irrespective of religious or linguistic denomination,” said the judge.
This order could have implications for colonies and areas — housing societies not included — that enforce religious or ethnic exclusivity. There are many such colonies in Delhi. But they cannot be listed because their exclusivity is not enforced through written rules or orders.
“Merely because the majority of people living in an area are Bengalis, a Buddhist organization cannot be denied allotment of land. This is against the very concept of inclusive society,” said constitutional expert and senior Supreme Court lawyer K.T.S. Tulsi
The Residents’ Welfare Associations of blocks M, N and P of CR Park had opposed allotment of land to the Buddha Tri Ratna Mission by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Land and Development Office (L&DO), calling it contrary to rules and bylaws.
The L&DO told the court the residents wanted to retain this land as a permanent venue for the annual Durga Puja and as an open park for children.
Both the L&DO and DDA told the court the plot was meant for religious sites under the original layout plan.
Reminding CR Park residents that Article 15(2) of the Constitution prohibits discrimination in matter of access to public spaces, the judge said “court should not be used to achieve the impermissible practice of segregation of populations in a colony comprised predominantly of members of a particular community”.
He slammed the RWAs for moving court again when a single judge of the court had decided in the mission’s favour on October 23, 2003.
“It would be an abuse of the process of law to permit endless rounds of litigations. There has to be finality to the litigation on this aspect at some point in time,” the court said.