In view of the recent government stay on demolition of religious structures, the Bombay high court on Monday said that religious leaders should take the lead to ensure that no new shrines come up in public places.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Bombay Catholic Sabha and others challenging the demolition of crosses at Hathi Baug in Byculla and Gokhale Road in Dadar.
Justice Ranjana Desai observed, “Ensure in future [that] such illegal shrines do not come up…religious leaders should themselves say that since this (government resolution) has come out, no shrines should be put up in public places.”
Government pleader Dhairyasheel Nalavade informed the court that the state government had issued a resolution on March 14, staying the demolitions of religious structures. Nalavade said that the government resolution has clarified that no religious structure will be allowed if it has come up on “any public roads, public parks or public places” after September 29, 2009, the date stipulated by the Supreme Court.
The division bench of justice Desai and justice Rajesh Ketkar suggested that the government should consider consulting religious leaders before formulating a policy on religious structures and observed, “If the respondent corporation [the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)] decides to take action in respect of religious structures [built] after September 29, 2009, on public places, public parks or other public places, they will do so in accordance with law.”
An affidavit was filed by deputy secretary (home) Suresh Sonawane on Friday stating: “The government will reconsider the whole issue, if it is necessary, in consultation with religious organisations and political parties and take steps to frame appropriate, revised guidelines after considering the directions of the SC and other factors.”
Expressing satisfaction with the government’s affidavit, the Sabha withdrew its petition.