Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 20 July 2024 5.19 PM IST

Places of worship should not be illegal; judgments from Kerala High Court and Delhi High Court should be eyeopener to believers 


All religions in the world have their own rituals and places of worship. It ranges from shrines built centuries ago to modern-day shrines. India's uniqueness is that almost all major religions have places of worship in the country to some extent. The respective religious groups go to their respective places of worship to pray, meditate and perform religious ceremonies. India is a country that has allowed complete freedom for this. India has temples with wide premises and places of worship located in a very narrow area. Perhaps no other country in the world has so many roadside prayer huts and shrines.

Even small shrines illegally erected on government land are visited, worshipped and, paid for by believers. No one inquires whether the temple is standing on legally purchased land or who established it there. The concept of God in all religions is based on truth and purity. So, if the very establishment of a temple was by resorting to untrue methods and encroaching upon government land, national highway etc., it is a disrespect to the concept of God itself. Shrines are often established along the road to protect other encroachments. None of this bothered the life of common people so much in the olden days. However, when the population and number of vehicles increase and the national highways expand, such constructions of places of worship lead to lawsuits, quarrels, problems and derailment of development projects in many places.

In this context, two judgments from the Kerala High Court the other day and from the Delhi High Court a week ago, pointing out the same thing, are very significant. The High Court has directed to remove the places of worship constructed illegally on government land in the state. Justice PV Kunhikrishnan said that the action report in this regard should be submitted within one year. The court has also asked the Chief Secretary to direct the Collectors to conduct an investigation through the Tehsildar, Village Officer etc., whether there are any illegal religious stones, crosses or other structures on government land.

In Delhi, the Delhi High Court has ordered the relocation of a roadside Shiva temple on the banks of the Yamuna River as it stands in the way of development as part of flood relief projects. The temple is run by a society. However, they did not have any documents proving the ownership of the temple site. The court pointed out that Lord Shiva does not need our protection, we need God's protection. All religious believers should equally welcome these two judgments which convince the people that the places of worship should stand and be established in legal places and not in illegal places.

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