The Delhi High Court has directed the SDMC, the DDA and police to ensure that its order to remove all illegal encroachers from the Kalkaji Temple premises is implemented in accordance with the deadline fixed by it.

The Court said the Dharamshalas on the Temple premises are expected to be catering to the devotees coming from outside Delhi and they are not meant to be permanently occupied by shopkeepers or their families.

"This position, in the opinion of this Court, is completely apposite to the interest and rights of the devotees who visit the Mandir premises. A careful balance needs to be struck between the rights of the encroachers residing within the Mandir premises and using the spaces for commercial interests, like the Petitioners, on the one hand and the rights of the lakhs of devotees who visit the Mandir.", the Court said.

"The Dharamshalas within the Mandir are not meant to be occupied permanently by shopkeepers or their families running shops or kiosks on the Mandir premises. Further, such occupation is clearly illegal as no licence fee or tehbazari is being paid by the Petitioners," Justice Prathiba M Singh said in the order passed on December 24.

The Court order came while dismissing a plea moved by three people staying in the Dharamshalas, seeking a direction to the authorities concerned to rehabilitate them prior to eviction or the demolition of the Dharamshalas.

The Petition was filed pursuant to a September 27 order passed by the Court, directing the removal of unauthorized occupants and illegal encroachers from the Temple premises.

The Court made it clear that the Petitioners are free to contact either the Administrator, in accordance with the earlier directions of the DUSIB, for the allotment of alternative accommodation and on being contacted, they shall be allotted night shelters as soon as possible.

"It is further made clear that irrespective of the said request being made or not, the deadline for vacating the Mandir premises does not deserve to be extended and the same shall expire on December 25, 2021 itself. The authorities concerned, that is, the SDMC, the DDA, the Delhi Police and all other authorities shall ensure that the orders passed by this Court in other petitions and the present writ petition are given effect to and implemented in order to remove all illegal encroachers within the Kalkaji Mandir premises, as per the deadline stipulated by this Court," the Judge said.

The Bench had earlier appointed retired Delhi High Court judge Justice J R Midha as the Administrator of the Temple for performing various functions in relation to the religious place.

The Court had said that the mandate of the Administrator shall be to take all necessary steps in the interest of the devotees, pilgrims and "baridaars" in order to ensure their safety and security, as also to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the deity and the Temple, which is of utmost historical importance to the people of Delhi.

It had directed that all unauthorized occupants and encroachers, who do not enjoy valid tehbazari licenses and are in unauthorized occupation of the premises, would be liable to be removed until and unless there is a Court order protecting them.

The Court was dealing with the rights, occupation and the manner of allocation and revenue collection from shopkeepers, tehbazari holders and Dharamshalas and also the legal issues arising from the baridaars and the puja sewa rights, inter se among various groups, as also the rights of women to conduct puja sewa at the Temple.

With PTI Inputs