The Central Information Commissioner has recommended the Delhi Administration, the Lieutenant Governor, the Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and the Delhi Police to act on the issue of removal of religious encroachments on Delhi Roads, “before each religious encroachment becomes a complex crisis inflamed by political exploitation, as such prompt action would remove the religious irritations on the roads and lives of the people facilitating easy flow of traffic.”
It directed the SPIO of Delhi Police to inform the PWD Department and the appellant the possible time of program to remove the illegal structures.
The appellant, Mr. Subodh Rawat had sought information regarding removal of religious structure in the centre of New Rohtak Road near DTC depot, Nangloi, Delhi. He wanted to know as to what action was taken by the Religious Committee, what is the time period within which the decision will be taken, letters received from Delhi Traffic Police regarding accident incidence due to these religious structures, etc.
On February 19, 2015, the First Appellate Authority noted that no reply was given by the SPIO and directed them to provide information and copies of the direction of Religious Committee and other correspondence, which was received on February 27, 2015. He also stated that religious structure would be removed once police assistance is made available by the Delhi Police. The SPIO attached copies of letters of request sent by the PWD division.
In its meeting on January 28, 2013, the Religious Committee recommended for removal of the religious encroachment situated in the 3’ lane of the main carriageway of New Rohtak Road near DTC depot Nangloi for the last 25 years. There were two more such illegal religious structures representing two more such illegal religious structures representing two main religions, which were also creating problems. These were recommended to be removed as well.
In the second appeal, the appellant stated that this encroaching illegal religious structure was further expanded, making the administration a mute spectator. He wanted to know details of the steps taken in this regard. He also wanted copies of the photo taken after expansion depicting present size. The SPIO submitted that their office did what all it could, and awaiting the police assistance.
While deciding on the matter, Information Commissioner, M. Sridhar Acharyulu made reference to the Delhi High Court Division bench judgment dated April 30, 2015, which had directed the Municipal authorities to remove all encroachments by religious structures. The dead line for the same was fixed as May 30, for removal of illegal religious structures on the roads of Chandni Chowk. The Bench comprised of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice S. Muralidhar.
The Information Commissioner noted that in the present case, the Religious Committee has thoroughly debated the removal of religious encroachment on New Rohtak Road. As per the directions of the LG of Delhi, assessment of law and order situation was also made. However, the PWD department is waiting for the assistance from the police to remove the encroachment.
“All this reflects the unfortunate state of affairs where administration is not allowed to remove an illegal structure, because that happened to be a religious structure which has potential to create law and order problem,” the Information Commissioner lamented.
The Information Commission observed that the lives of citizens and peace is more important than traffic hazard issue and urged the appellant to understand that the “secular character of Indian Constitution is being used to promote religion based politics and there is no point in pressurizing the PWD division for this.”
Read the order here.