The Supreme Court declined to stay the demolition of temples which are out of bound for public in the campus of old Lucknow jail where dismantling work is being carried out for setting up of an ecological park.
“There cannot be a temple inside the jail for public. There can be some place of worship for the inmates. The jail has now been shifted,” a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said.
The apex court said it cannot pass an order for the demolition of temples outside the boundary wall of the jail campus since it was only concerned with the existence of place of worship inside the jail.
The Court’s observation came when the advocate who has filed the PIL seeking stay on demolition of temple in the old jail campus said that the Uttar Pradesh Government in its affidavit has admitted the existence of two temples outside the boundary wall of the jail.
“We are not concerned with the existence of temple outside the boundary wall of the jail,” the Bench said adding,”If there was a temple inside the jail it was only for the inmates.”
However,it accepted the plea of the advocate to file response in four weeks to the affidavit filed by the state government.
Senior advocates K K Venugopal and S C Mishra,appearing for the state government,protested when the petitioner raised the issue of temple just outside the jail campus saying it is not the subject matter of the petition.
The affidavit was filed in response to the September 4 order of the court asking UP government not to demolish any temple if existing in and around the jail till further order.
The Bench was hearing an application by advocate Sangam Lal Pandey who alleged that the authorities were demolishing temples in the jail area.
Mishra,a close aide of Chief Minister Mayawati,had earlier also denied there was any temple there and alleged the application was moved to create a roadblock to the project for which the old jail was being demolished.
Pandey had also filed the petition for staying the demolition of the jail alleging it was done to construct monuments.
However,the apex court had refused his plea after the state government assured the court that the old jail premises would be used only for the purpose of setting up an ecological park and not monuments.
The court had said that it cannot stop the demolition of the jail as it has not been declared as a heritage building.
Uttar Pradesh government had on July 8 assured the apex court that the land would not be used for building monuments.
The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had earlier restrained the state government from carrying out any demolition and construction activity in the jail and had asked the authorities to explain its position.
The state government had informed the apex court that the new jail has been built with all the facilities for 4,660 inmates at a cost of Rs 210 crore and all the prisoners would soon be shifted to that jail.