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Guru Ravidas Temple : Contempt Plea Filed In SC Over Non-Restoration Of Land & Idols

Nilashish Chaudhary
20 Feb 2020 8:08 AM GMT
Guru Ravidas Temple : Contempt Plea Filed In SC Over Non-Restoration Of Land & Idols
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Former Congress Member of Parliament, from Haryana, Ashok Tanwar on Thursday moved a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Delhi Government alleging that they have 'willfully and deliberately: flouted the Court's orders for restoration of idols and reconstruction of the Guru Ravidas temple in Tughlaqabad, Delhi.

The petitioner, an ardent follower of Guru Ravidas, belonging to the same community, further informs the court that despite its order, on October 21, 2019, for the constitution of a Committee of Devotees within 6 weeks from that date, there has been no development in that regard. He further submits that the court had orally asked for the petitioner to be included in that Committee, subsequent to which he approached the DDA on several occasions, but no action was taken. According to him, while the six week time period lapsed on December 2, 2019, he has not received any communication in terms of the formation of such Committee.

Idols have not been restored, and nor has reconstruction of the temple commenced, appraises the petitioner. Since none of the orders passed by the court have been implemented yet, contempt proceedings must be initiated, and respondents should consequently be summoned and punished for intentionally not complying with the Apex court's orders, he prays.

Guru Ravidas, a 16th century mystic sage, is venerated largely by Dalits in the regions of Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. It is widely believed that the temple was built in the land donated to Guru Ravidas in 16th century. 

Tanwar goes on to refer to the Ayodhya land dispute judgment, which was pronounced in November 2019, to establish that it came after final orders were passed for the reconstruction of the Guru Ravidas temple. It was based on this order that "the principle of formation of Committee of Devotees was further adopted in the Ayodhya Case wherein the Hon'ble Supreme Court directed for formation of a Trust." While the order for formation of a Trust has been met with in that case, the same in the Guru Ravidas temple matter is "nowhere in sight." The disparity has been alleged to be patent discrimination. The petitioner expresses his anguish and accuses the Government of being discriminatory and showing neglect towards people belonging to the Scheduled Caste.

"This in itself is patent discrimination and shows the neglect of the Government towards the Scheduled Caste, mostly who are ardent believers in Guru Ravidas."

The petitioner goes on to clarify that though the six week period had lapsed in December and no work has been done to implement an order from October, a delay in filing this plea is owing to Assembly Elections being conducted in Delhi. The issue may have gained political colour, which he wanted to avoid "at all costs".

In light of justice not having been meted out, despite Court orders, the grievance of followers of Guru Ravidas across the world has also been invoked. The community expected justice, but "delay in construction of Guru Ravidas Temple is causing a lot of anguish and hurting millions of people, not only in India but across the world", he highlights.

Case background

The DDA had initiated eviction proceedings against the temple citing that it was situated on encroached public land. Claiming adverse possession of the land, a suit was filed by Guru Ravidas Jainti Samaroh Samiti - a registered Society managing the temple - seeking prohibitory injunction against DDA. The suit was dismissed by trial court.

The appeal filed in the Delhi High Court was dismissed by the single bench of Justice Valmiki Mehta on November 13, 2018, observing that the Society could not establish its rights over the land.

On April 4, 2019, the Special Leave Petition filed against the Delhi HC judgment was summarily dismissed by the SC bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha. The bench granted two months time to the Society to vacate the premises.

Noting that the Society has not vacated the premises, the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah issued stern directions on August 9 to DDA to forcefully demolish the structure the next day. On Augsut 10, the DDA executed the Court's orders.

The demolition led to massive public protests in various parts of the country. On August 14, the SC observed that the demolition should not be politicized.

"Don't think we are powerless. We know the seriousness of the issue," the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said when the counsel appearing for the Guru Ravidas Jainti Samaroh Samiti, referred to the agitation on the issue in Punjab.

"Don't speak a word and don't aggravate the issue. You are in for contempt. We will haul up your entire management. We will see what has to be done," the bench also comprising Justices M R Shah and Ajay Rastogi said while requesting Attorney General K K Venugopal to assist in the matter.

Amid protest from the community in his state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had sought Prime Minister Modi's intervention to resolve the matter.

The national capital was taken by a massive Dalit gathering on August 21 demanding the reconstruction of the temple. 

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