No spirituality can be attached to criminal activities, the Delhi High Court said on Monday, observing that it was “unfortunate and painful” that a 108-foot Hanuman statue was allowed to be raised on public land’s pavement in the city.
The court, which had earlier directed the CBI to probe how the famous Hanuman statue came to be built on public land in the busy Karol Bagh area of the city, asked the agency to ensure that the matter is dealt with seriously and stringent action is taken against all the lawbreakers.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said if prosecution is launched against any person, the court concerned shall ensure that the matter is dealt with expeditiously and guilty are brought to book.
The court said a “very unfortunate” stand was taken by land owning agencies in this matter as none of them have come forward to say that the land belongs to them.
“It is very unfortunate that a 108-foot statue has been allowed to come on a public land…,” the bench said. It added that the issue required a closer scrutiny and the facts manifest grave issues of corruption and public fraud.
The bench said it was “painful” that this kind of encroachment has been allowed to be raised on a pavement on the main road and every person party to this “fraud” needs to be dealt with a heavy hand.
“No spirituality can be attached to criminal activities,” it said and directed the CBI to file a monthly status report in the matter.
The court also appointed senior advocate Dayan Krishnan and advocate Gautam Narayan as amicus curiae in the matter. It asked the DDA to file a status report in the matter and listed it for further hearing on September 6.
The CBI had earlier claimed in the high court that the DDA and the North Delhi Municipal Corporation were not cooperating with its enquiry as to how the statue and a private two-wheeler dealership encroached upon public land.
The DDA and the corporation had rejected the CBI’s claim. Earlier, the North MCD had claimed that the site in question did not come under its jurisdiction and that the New Delhi Municipal Council was responsible for the area.
Both the DDA and North MCD had tried to distance themselves from the land in question after they were directed by the court to give a list of their officials who were posted in the area when the famous statue was being built illegally on public land, including a pavement.
The court had initially ordered a police probe into the encroachment after a committee appointed by it in May last year to look into illegal constructions all over Delhi had pointed to encroachments of up to 1,170 square yards on DDA land which forms part of the Southern Ridge.
The committee had also said that apart from the Hanuman statue, there were unauthorised constructions of multiple small and big buildings of up to four floors, including a residential complex there.
The bench had then directed the authorities to take action against the unauthorised constructions on public land and ensure that all encroachments on the Southern Ridge are removed immediately and the Ridge is secured as per the orders of the Supreme Court.