New Delhi: The central government told the Supreme Court on Friday it is ready to rebuild the Saint Ravidas temple in Delhi at the same site where the shrine was demolished in August on the court’s orders.
Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted that the decision has been taken to ensure peace and harmony, after the demolition at south Delhi's Tughlakabad had sparked widespread protests by devotees. "That same 200 square metre area of the site can be handed over to a committee of devotees for construction of temple," Venugopal said, adding that five out of seven petitioners, who approached court against demolition of temple have agreed to the proposal.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Ravindra Bhat took on record the offer made by Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, and asked parties seeking construction of a temple to submit objections, if any by Monday. The court said it will pronounce its final judgement on the matter on October 23.
The temple was demolished by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on August 10 following the court's direction as it was built on encroached forest land. The court had observed that “serious breach” had been committed by Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti by not vacating the forest area as ordered earlier.
Attorney General has told the SC that he held consultation with all concerned parties including devotees and government officials and that the Centre has agreed to give the land considering sensitivity and faith of devotees for the site.
Following the demolition of the 500-year-old temple, protests had been staged at several places in Punjab and Delhi by political parties and members of the Dalit community. Key organisations advocating for Dalit rights had supported the call for a nationwide bandh.
The issue also took a political hue with various parties demanding that the temple be reconstructed either at the same spot in Tughlakabad forest area or at an alternative location. The gathering in the national capital saw the presence of Delhi’s Social Justice Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and spiritual leaders from the community.
The top court had earlier warned against politicising the temple’s demolition and threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against those provoking dharnas and demonstrations. The Bench had also said that it will not tolerate criticism of the judgement.