A petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking the court to give directions to the Tamil Nadu government for the regularisation and relocation of temples constructed on poramboke lands (government lands) and water bodies.
The Madras High Court bench of Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy heard a PIL filed by T Elango, leader of Hindu Munnani in Tamil Nadu, who sought directions against the DMK-led state government. The petitioner said that the ongoing temple demolition drive by the state government was motivated and not based on any transparent policy. The petitioner also sought a stay on the demolition drive by the state.
Senior Advocate Sai Deepak, appearing for T. Elango, urged the High Court to intervene and direct the state government to submit the guidelines it follows to carry out the demolition of unauthorised religious structures.
The counsel referred to previous Supreme Court judgements that directed the states and union territories not to entertain illegal religious constructions on public streets, public parks or other public places. Advocate Sai Deepak argued that the concerned High Courts should supervise the implementation of this order.
According to the petitioners, more than two dozen temples have been demolished in the last two months. Recently, the Stalin-led DMK government in Tamil Nadu had also destroyed a 40-year-old temple structure by claiming that it was situated near a waterbody. Similarly, the government authorities bulldozed a 1000-year-old temple in Thanjavur.
The petitioners argued that there were two issues pertaining to the demolition drive. First is compliance with the apex court order about framing the policy for dealing with illegal religious structures—secondly, the discriminatory nature of the ongoing demolition drive that targets temples alone.
The petitioners also stated that the current demolition drive targeted the temples alone. They pointed out an instance of a mosque illegally constructed in public land, however, the government did not take discriminatory actions fearing political backlash, the counsel argued.
Advocate Sai Deepak also contended that the temples constructed at the site are not responsible for floods in the region. However, the court disagreed by claiming that any unauthorised construction will have detrimental effects.
Hearing the petitioner, High Court asked the petitioner to file a detailed affidavit on how the current demolition drive for removing encroachments has been religiously discriminatory.