Paving the way for construction of Guru Ravidas temple in South Delhi, Supreme Court Monday agreed to Centre’s offer of granting land at the same place where it existed before. Directing the Centre to set up a committee within six weeks for the construction, the bench also barred any commercial activity in the area in and around the place earmarked for the temple.
The temple was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority following the top court’s direction, which led to a series of protests across Delhi, Punjab and Haryana. The apex court on August 19 had directed authorities in these areas to ensure no law and order situation is created politically or otherwise.
During its previous hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre had submitted the proposal and offered 200 sq metre land at the same place where it existed before, but with certain conditions. The offer was later revised to 400 sq metre land.
As per the memorandum of settlement submitted to the SC, the area permitted for worship will be enclosed by a boundary fence and will have a gate for entry. It states that no encroachment will be allowed outside the boundary.
It further states that the Centre will restore the Sant Ravidas pond and the four samadhis, but no structure will be constructed over the samadhis. The Centre has also said a temporary structure, in the nature of a portacabin made of wood, will house the statue of Guru Ravidas — of 20 ft x20 ft dimension — where devotees will be allowed to perform puja.
The top court had earlier warned against politicising the temple’s demolition and said it would initiate contempt proceedings against those provoking protests and demonstrations. It said it respects everybody’s sentiments but the law has to be followed.
Protests led by Dalit leader and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad turned violent, leading to several vehicles being damaged. Chandrashekhar Azad and 90 other leaders were arrested.