Observing that no religion allows worship at a place which has been built illegally, the Bombay High Court today asked the Maharashtra government to demolish by year-end all such structures that have been identified as “illegal”. “No political interference would be tolerated in such task undertaken by the government,” a division bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka warned, asking the government to take action against the activists or politicians who may interfere.
The HC also asked the police commissioners of Mumbai and other cities to provide adequate protection to the civic staff during the demolition. Following the government’s plea seeking three months to implement the order, the bench directed the state to demolish by December 31 all religious structures that have already been identified as illegal”. The bench also asked the government to direct the committees appointed by it (the government) earlier at various levels to identify any other illegal shrines in their respective areas before March 31, 2017.
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If any political leader tried to interfere in the demolition, the government should set the law in motion against such persons, the HC said. “No religion allows worship at any shrine which is illegally built. We propose to issue a writ of mandamus to the state government against allowing illegal shrines to come up on public lands,” the bench said. “Article 25 of the Constitution, which pertains to practise and propagation of religion, does not confer the
right to offer worship at any place which has been built illegally,” the high court said.