DDemolishing Places of Worship

In the name of God and God’s home some people open up their shops. These kinds of everywhere crop of worship places create hindrance for the public movement. Good that Hindutva champions like Narendra Modi had derecognised the fake elements in erecting temples on the road sides.

The Times of India writes (1 October 2009)

How many times have we come across a place of religious worship smack in the middle of a thoroughfare or encroaching on the road in such a way as to
hinder traffic? The Supreme Court has now banned unauthorised construction of places of worship in public places. In a landmark judgement a two-judge bench has said that no illegal construction of a temple, church, gurdwara, mosque or any other religious institution shall be permitted in public spaces.

The court’s directive won’t be easy to enforce given the reluctance of authorities to step in where the possibility of hurting religious sentiments is concerned. But in a rare show of consensus, all states agreed at a meeting held by the Union home secretary about the need to ban unauthorised religious structures. There is some ambiguity about existing illegal constructions. The court has rightly asked state governments to review each case separately and then take action. That such action is feasible was illustrated when chief minister Narendra Modi, who often behaves as Hindutva’s poster boy, backed municipal corporations across Gujarat as they demolished places of worship causing obstruction on roads and other places, despite widespread protests.

The Supreme Court ruling highlights one of the essential features of a secular state where freedom of religion is guaranteed so long as it does not clash with the laws of the country. Thus, there is a caveat of “public order, morality and health” to freedom of religion articles in the Indian Constitution. That is precisely why construction of a place of worship cannot be permitted if it is not authorised or causes inconvenience to the public.

A similar logic can be applied to other forms of religious expression or festivities that cause public inconvenience. The use of loudspeakers during religious festivals or prayers is one such example. There is no reason why a religious ceremony should be allowed to disturb the peace of people who are not involved with it in any way. Religious festivals and ceremonies are an integral part of Indian culture. Indeed, our secularism tolerates and encourages all forms of religious faith in the public sphere. But such displays must be mindful of the laws of the land. Diwali is a few days away. We have all become habituated to the noise and air pollution caused by Diwali fireworks despite inconvenience to the sick, elderly and young. But there is no reason why festivities, and construction of places of religious worship, should brazenly flout laws. dargah


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