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Supreme Court Halts Dispossession Of Pujaris For Kalkaji Temple Redevelopment

Shruti Kakkar
13 Jun 2022 1:30 PM GMT
Supreme Court Halts Dispossession Of Pujaris For Kalkaji Temple Redevelopment
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While considering a Special Leave Petition assailing Delhi High Court's order directing pujaris and unauthorized occupants in city's Kalkaji Temple to vacate the premises by June 6, the Supreme Court on Monday said that the temple's redevelopment can be carried out without dispossessing the pujaris from the premises where they are said to be residing. The vacation bench of...

While considering a Special Leave Petition assailing Delhi High Court's order directing pujaris and unauthorized occupants in city's Kalkaji Temple to vacate the premises by June 6, the Supreme Court on Monday said that the temple's redevelopment can be carried out without dispossessing the pujaris from the premises where they are said to be residing.

The vacation bench of Justices AS Bopanna and Vikram Nath issued notice in the SLP, wherein the pujaris were also aggrieved by the High Court's order dated May 20.

The bench further tagged the SLP with the other pleas that are pending before the Top Court and are to be heard on August 24, 2022.

The bench in their order said,

"Issue notice to the respondents and tag this SLP along with SLP No 32452/32453 of 2013 and other similar matters. In the meanwhile there shall be no impediment for carrying out the redevelopment with regards to the orders passed by the High Court but such redevelopment shall be without dispossessing the petitioners from the premises where they are said to be residing."
Before the Top Court today, counsel for the pujaris of the Kalkaji temple submitted that the High Court on June 1 asked the occupants of the Dharamshalas and the pujaris to vacate on or before June 6.

Terming the impugned order as being passed in haste, the counsel said, "We're living for generations. 800 people will be jobless." He also apprised the bench of the pending SLPs which assail the orders of vacation of land and appointment of the administrator.

In the impugned orders, the single judge bench of Justice Pratibha M Singh on June 1 had observed that the occupants of the dharamshalas and pujaris could not claim a vested right to remain in city's Kalkaji Temple premises and had directed that such dharamshalas shall be vacated on or before 6th June, 2022. The judge had added that in case of failure to comply with the direction, the concerned SHO shall take steps, in consultation with the Administrator, to evict the said pujaris and the dharamshala occupants.

The Court had also said that the pujaris and the occupants of Dharamshalas had come into occupancy of the said premises with a view to render services to the deity and thus, claiming of such private individual rights on the said land was not permissible.

In the order dated May 20, the High Court had observed that redevelopment of city's Kalkaji Temple could commence only if all persons who were in occupation of dharamshalas vacate the said premises and had said that it would direct final vacation of the same by all occupants on June 1. Justice Pratibha M Singh, added that the pujaris or baridaars who were occupying the dharamshalas would make submissions before the Court concerning the timelines of such vacation on the said date. The Court also directed that the Administrator shall also have interactions with the pujaris or baridaars and shall submit a report to the Court by 4 July, 2022.

It may be noted that the Supreme Court recently refused to interfere in the plea challenging the eviction of the said unauthorized occupants of Jhuggis and Dharamshalas. However, it granted petitioner the liberty to approach the Administrator appointed by the High Court for redressal of grievances.

Case Title: Nathi Ram Bhardwaj v Neeta Bhardwaj| Diary No 17925 of 2022

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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