The Supreme Court on Monday, October 21 accepted the proposal of the Centre to hand over Sant Ravidas temple site to a committee of devotees to re-build the shrine at the same place where it was demolished in August in South Delhi. The SC also accepted the Centre's revised offer when Attorney General KK Venugopal told a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Shripathi Ravindra Bhat that the Centre has revised its offer from 200 square metre area for the temple to 400 square metres keeping in view the faith and sentiments of devotees. KK Venugopal had earlier told the SC that the decision had been taken to ensure peace and harmony.
The government has also proposed a committee of devotees to look into the temple's future management. The bench directed the Centre to constitute within six weeks a committee for the construction of the temple in the area earmarked for it. The bench said that nobody will carry out any commercial activity in the area in and around the place earmarked for the temple. The Apex court also directed that persons who were arrested during agitations following the demolition of the temple be released on furnishing of a personal bond.
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court by Congress leader Rajesh Lilothia seeking the direction to allow construction of a Guru Ravidas temple in the Tughlaqabad forest area in Delhi. The temple was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) following the court's direction as it was built on encroached forest land. Lilothia, in his plea, while emphasising on his right to pray, informed the apex court that the temple at Tughlaqbad was not a part of the list of unauthorized religious places in Delhi.
He had also said that the temple had historic significance, as it was built on the land that was allotted by Sultan Sikander Lodhi to Guru Ravidas himself in 1509. "The demolition of this sacred temple has hurt crores of followers across the countries, who were never informed by the authorities before this demolition," read the plea. Following the demolition, the protests were held against the action by devotees as well as political parties. The Supreme Court had warned political parties that attempt to politicise the matter would be viewed as contempt of court.
(With PTI inputs)