Everyone responsible for the 108-foot Hanuman statue and surrounding illegal structures in Central Delhi should be prosecuted, the High Court said on Tuesday. “Will prayers reach the God if you pray from illegal encroachments on pavements?” the bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked.
“Even if we cannot remove the temple, people who are responsible for it will meet their fate,” the bench said, according to The Hindu. A court-appointed panel had found that there was encroachment of up to 1,170 square yards on land belonging to Delhi Development Authority on the Old Link Road.
The Public Works Department told the bench that one foot of Hanuman rested on the pavement, which belongs to the municipal corporation, but the rest of the structure was on the land that belonged to the DDA.
The court said it would prosecute the officials of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and DDA during whose tenure the statue and other encroachments were built. It asked the municipal body to produce records about the construction near the statue in Karol Bagh area.
The court was hearing petitions related to illegal constructions and encroachments in Karol Bagh. It has earlier said that religious structures cannot be allowed to encroach on public land for private gains, and had asked civic bodies to consider airlifting the statue to remove encroachments around it.
The large statue is often considered a landmark, and has appeared in several Bollywood films. Several buildings have been constructed illegally in its vicinity.