The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere with the Delhi High Court order directing removal of encroachments and unauthorised occupants and shopkeepers, who do not have any valid legal rights to occupy the shops, in Kalkaji Temple in South Delhi here.

A Bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant said, "We are not inclined to entertain the plea. We grant liberty to the petitioners to move the administrator appointed by the High Court with their grievances and the administrator will place the report before the High Court for suitable directions."

The Bench said, "In some matters, we need to trust our High Courts. We all have been judges of the High Court. We are not here as an appellate forum in every matter. The dignity of the deity must be preserved."

At the outset, the bench told Senior Advocate P N Mishra, appearing for the petitioners, that they should have cooperated with the drive.

We have seen the judgement of the High Court. The reason that the High Court has considered is the fact that Navaratri is starting and you are only interested in making money, the Bench said.

Mishra submitted that his clients are not interested in the money but the land which belongs to them and they have been there for years. The Bench said that those displaced will be rehabilitated.

Mishra pointed to the report filed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) which said that the land belonged to the Pujaris (priests) and not to the deity.

When the Court had entertained the petition in 2013, these Pujaris came forward with the claim of their land. A direction was issued to the SDM to ascertain the actual owner of the land. The SDM filed the affidavit which said that it is a private land belonging to the Pujaris and not of deity. It is not government land but private land, he said.

Mishra said that demolition is taking place of Jhuggis which are unauthorised constructions but there are Dharamshalas which are 200 years old and these Pujaris are staying there with their families for years.

The Bench said, "You can very well approach the administrator appointed by the High Court with your grievances or you can approach the High Court''.

Justice Surya Kant said that there are no directions as such to evict the Pujaris and the order only deals with unauthorised constructions.

Justice Chandrachud said that the urgency in the matter is Navratra festival and moreover the High Court is seized of the matter.

On September 27, last year, the High Court had directed removal of encroachments and unauthorised occupants and shopkeepers, who do not have any valid legal rights to occupy the shops, in Kalkaji Temple in South Delhi and said the action be taken within five days keeping in view the forthcoming Navratrai festival.

The High Court had said it is essential for a temple, where thousands of devotees visit for conducting puja every day, irrespective of its public or private status, to be devoid of unauthorised encroachments which results in extreme inconvenience and safety and security concerns for the devotees.

It had appointed retired Delhi High Court judge, Justice J R Midha as the administrator of the Kalkaji Temple for performing various functions in relation to the religious place.

The High Court had also appointed Goonmeet Singh Chauhan, a renowned Architect who has undertaken various projects of public importance, to submit a re-development plan for the Kalkaji Mandir and the entire surrounding complex and said he shall work closely with the Administrator and his team.

The Court had said that the mandate of the administrator shall be to take all necessary steps in the interest of devotees, pilgrims, baridaars (persons managing temple affairs), in order to ensure their safety and security, as also to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the deity and the mandir which is of utmost historical importance to the people of Delhi.

It had directed that all unauthorised occupants/encroachers, who do not enjoy valid tehbazari licences, and are in unauthorised occupation of the premises, would be liable to be removed, until and unless there is a court order protecting the occupant.

With PTI inputs