A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Mukundkam Sharma also asked various governments to decide the fate of millions of existing unauthorised places of worship on public land “on case to case basis”.
The Supreme Court banned all unauthorised new and future construction of places of worship on public land and sought strict compliance of its order from the union and state governments.
The bench issued its order after Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian said the union government in consultation with state governments had evolved a consensus that no unauthorised place of worship should be allowed to be built on any public land in future.
In a meeting of state chief secretaries with union Home Secretary G.K. Pillay on Sep 17, it was also decided that the government would take a decision on the fate of existing places of worship on public land and streets on a case to case basis, Subramanian told the bench.
The government had convened the meeting following the apex court’s July 31 observation, asking for a complete stop to the public nuisance.
“The solicitor general will file an affidavit to ensure that no temple, church, mosque or gurudwara is constructed on a public street or a public space,” the bench had demanded on July 31. It was hearing a lawsuit by the union government challenging a Gujarat High Court judgement of 2006, ordering the demolition of several places of worship of various faiths that had mushroomed illegally on thoroughfares and other public places.
The high court ruling, however, had been suspended earlier by the apex court on May 2006 on an urgent lawsuit by the union government.
With the bench seeking the union government’s assurance on the issue, the solicitor general had pointed out that land was a state subject.
He than had assured the court that he would ask the centre to evolve a consensus on the tricky issue.
The bench has also ordered district magistrates, collectors or commissioners all over the country to report compliance of its order to their respective chief secretaries, who would in turn report to the court.