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Telangana HC Issues Notices On Plea For Rebuilding Of Religious Structures Allegedly Torn Down During Telangana Secretariat Demolition

9 Sep 2020 9:16 AM GMT
Telangana HC Issues Notices On Plea For Rebuilding Of Religious Structures Allegedly Torn Down During Telangana Secretariat Demolition
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The Telangana High Court on Wednesday issued notices on a PIL seeking re-building of the religious places, situated within the Telangana State Secretariat Building, that were allegedly torn down during demolition of the Secretariat Building.

The Bench comprised of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy has issued notices to the Central Government, Government of Telangana, Waqf Board and the Commissioner, Endowments etc.

It has asked the Assistant Solicitor General of India and Advocate General of Telangana to file their Counter affidavits in the matter by October 1, 2020.

The petition has been filed by Advocate Khaja Aijazuddin, practicing Advocate at Telangana High Court, alleging that two Mosques and one Temple, situated/ within the vicinity of the Secretariat Building were damaged during the demolition process.

A Division Bench of the Telangana High Court had refused to interfere with the State Government's decision to modify/ demolish the old Secretariat Building to construct a new one, last month. An appeal against this order was dismissed by the Top Court holding that the High Court had already rendered the decision on merits.

Accordingly, the demolition work commenced, allegedly damaging the religious places situated therein.

The present plea, though not concerned with the demolition of the Secretariat per se, avers that the religious places situate therein have existed since a long time and their demolition amounts to deprivation of citizens' fundamental rights enshrined under Articles 14, 21, 25 and 26 of the Constitution.

The Petitioner had earlier approached the Supreme Court praying that such unauthorized demolition of religious structures be declared as illegal. However, the plea was withdrawn with liberty to approach the High Court.

In his plea, Advocate Aijazuddin has contended that the Government is statutorily bound to protect these religious places and it is incumbent upon them to rebuild the structures, at the same place where they previously stood.

It is alleged that the Government has finalized the construction design of the new Secretariat, while there is 'not even a whisper' about inclusion of the temple and/ or the Mosques in the new Plan.

"The two mosques which were demolished are Waqf Properties, their administration, management and title vests under the provisions of The Waqf Act, 1995. The Respondent Nos. 3 & 4 [Chairman and CEO of Telangana State Wakf Board] are duty bound to adhere in compliance of The Waqf Act, 1995," he submitted.

In this backdrop, the Top Court has been urged to term the demolition of Religious Places as highly unwarranted, illegal and unconstitutional and to direct the competent authorities discharge their statutory duties to protect the Religious Places and to act in accordance with the law.

It is prayed that the State Government be directed to pass an Executive Order or Resolution in the State Assembly, making a commitment to rebuild the Religious Places, i.e., two Mosques and one Temple, within the Secretariat Complex Building, at the same places where the structures previously stood.

The matter is now listed for hearing on October 8, 2020.

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