SC approves permanent structure for Ravidas temple

New Delhi


The Supreme Court on Monday approved construction of a permanent Guru Ravidas temple in the Tughlaqabad forest area after modifying its previous order of a wooden porta cabin, suggested by Centre.

The temple was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in August on the top court's orders.

A Bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, also allowed enclosure of the Guru Ravidas pond within the temple's fence, which will integrate it into the temple complex. Last week the apex court had agreed to hear a plea seeking a permanent structure for the Guru Ravidas Temple. The top court asked the agencies concerned to cooperate with the devotees.

The plea was filed by former Congress leader Ashok Tanwar and others.

In October, the apex court had accepted the Centre's revised offer, allocating 400 sq metres of land at the site for re-construction of the temple. Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing Tanwar, told the Bench on the previous hearing, the Centre's offer was not acceptable.

"On October 21, it was submitted before the apex court that the government offer of wooden porta cabin was not acceptable to petitioners. Accordingly, the court had also said the temple should be a permanent structure, and not a porta cabin," said the petitioners citing that the same instruction of the court, due to typographical and clerical mistakes, didn't reflect in the order.

The counsel submitted when the court had allowed the petition and enforced the right to worship, then the court must ensure its direction was meaningful and complete.

The petitioners contended that the Guru Ravidas Sarovar, adjoining the temple, had also to be restored as per the Centre's offer. But the offer detailed that a boundary fence would come up in the area.

"It's submitted that this fence will exclude the Guru Ravidas Sarovar and samadhis (tombs), which inexplicably forms part of the temple and religious activities conducted," said the petition, seeking to justify the significance of the water body, where thousands of visitors on important occasions conduct kirtans and bhandaras.

"Followers of Guru Ravidas take a dip in the pond and believe that it has holy and medicinal qualities," the plea emphasised.

Therefore, the boundary fence must encloses the temple complex as well as the Guru Ravidas Pond with samadhis, as it would restore the land area given by Sikander Lodhi, which was in use of crores of followers of Saint Ravidas.

The temple's demolition led to massive protests in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana. Initially, the Centre offered 200 sq metres area for the temple, but later revised it to 400 sq metres.

After a stakeholder consultation, the Centre agreed to grant the same land for the construction of the temple considering the importance of the site for the devotees.IANS