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As Punjab Boils over Demolition of Ravidas Temple in Delhi, Supreme Court Stands Firm on Its Order

A representative image.

A representative image.

Justice Mishra said it was in bad taste that the orders of the highest court of the land, which had directed that the structure be removed, were treated with disdain and people would rather take to the streets to protest.

New Delhi: Even as Punjab witnesses protest by the Ravidas community over the alleged demolition of a temple in New Delhi, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stood firm on its decision and said its orders are not influenced by politics around such demonstrations.

"What is this going on? What are they protesting against...our decision? We are not influenced by all this," said Justice Arun Mishra, heading the bench.

The controversy relates to the demolition of a Guru Ravidas temple in Delhi's Tughlakabad area, which led to a complete shutdown by Dalit groups in Punjab on Tuesday. Protesters blocked roads at a few places, including the Jalandhar-Delhi national highway, causing huge traffic jams, officials said. Protest marches were taken out by Dalits at several places as the demonstrators sat on a dharna, burnt effigies and placed burning tyres on roads.

While Delhi Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam on Monday alleged that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) demolished the temple in the presence of a police force last Saturday and the statue was "taken away", the DDA did not use the word temple and said the "structure was removed as per the orders of the Supreme Court".

Justice Mishra on Tuesday said it was in bad taste that the orders of the highest court of the land were treated with disdain and people would rather take to the streets to protest. "We are not concerned about politics, political considerations. We pass our orders based on facts and law. Let everyone know this is not a place for politics," he said.

Justice Mishra's views were supported by Justice MR Shah on the bench.

"What's happening everywhere? People seem to forget that orders by the highest court deserve to be respected and complied with. You can't defy our orders by staging protests etc," said Justice Shah.

Justice Mishra made it clear that all such instances of defiance will be viewed seriously by the top court. "All these acts amount to contempt of court. And we will take actions against everyone," he said.

The bench also sought assistance of Attorney General KK Venugopal in the matter, decrying the recurrence of such incidents in the recent past.

"Let us have your assistance in the matter. This cannot go on," the judges told the law officer who agreed to show up on August 19 when the matter is taken up next.

Meanwhile, the counsel for the DDA informed the court that its orders have been complied with and that the illegal structures have been removed.

The court had on August 9 taken a strong view of the fact that a purportedly false statement was made before it on behalf of the office bearers of Guru Ravidas Jainti Samaroh Samiti that the premises had been vacated in compliance with the Supreme Court's earlier order.

The court had then ordered vacation of premises and removal of all encroachments in the next 24 hours, and made top functionaries in the DDA, Delhi Police Commissioner and Chief Secretary of the Delhi government accountable. It had sought a compliance report by August 13.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to pacify the community leaders, who gathered under the banner of the Guru Ravidas Jayanti Samaroh Samiti and announced they would observe Independence Day as a 'black day' against the demolition.

The bandh call on Tuesday evoked good response in places like Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Phagwara and Kapurthala, where shops remained shut and educational institutions were ordered to be closed by authorities as a precautionary measure. The strike also had impact in places like Amritsar, Ludhiana, Bathinda and Gurdaspur.