NEW DELHI: Secular character of the Indian Constitution is being used to promote religion-based politics, the Central Information Commission has said while making a stern observation on illegal religious structures.
The observations came from Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu, while hearing the petition of Subodh Rawat seeking details of action taken by Public Works Department in removing an illegal religious structure on Rohtak Road which is proving to be a traffic hazard.
"The situation prevalent is that lives of citizen and peace is more important than the traffic hazard issue, and unfortunately, this situation is being exploited by the vested interests using 'religion' and religion-based politics," the Commissioner said.
He was informed by PWD authorities that case of religious structure has been thoroughly debated and Religious Committee has recommended to remove it. The LG had instructed to make a law and order assessment but PWD department is waiting for assistance from Delhi Police for removing the encroachment.
After hearing the parties, Acharyulu said this reflects an unfortunate state of affairs where administration is not allowed to remove an illegal structure, because it happens to be a religious structure which has a potential to create law and order problem.
The Information Commissioner said appellant has to understand that although there is a frustrating delay, it was not possible for PWD to demolish structure obstructing the traffic without assistance from police.
"The RTI appellant should also understand that secular character of Indian Constitution is being used to promote religion-based politics and there no point in pressurising the PWD division for this," he said.
Acharyulu directed the Delhi Police to inform the PWD department and appellant within one month the possible time and program to remove the illegal structure.
"The Commission recommends Delhi Administration, Lt Governor, the CM, the Chief Secretary and Delhi Police to act on the issue of removing religious encrochments on Delhi Roads as pointed out by the Delhi High Court, and recommended by the Religious Committee on January 28, 2015, before each religious encroachment becomes a complex crisis inflamed by political exploitation, as such prompt action would remove religious irritations on roads and lives of people besides facilitating easy flow of traffic," he said.
The Delhi High Court had on April 30, 2015 directed the municipal authorities to remove all encroachments by religious structures and it also fixed the deadline of May 30th for the removal of illegal religious structures on the roads of Chandni Chowk, Acharyulu noted.
It had also directed the city government and police to cooperate with the PWD in removing these structures.
Acharyulu said the directives were issued after the bench of S Ravindra Bhat and S Muralidhar was told that Religious Committee set up by the Government is yet to take decision regarding the Chandni Chowk area.
"The Delhi High Court said the ownership of land was with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and since authorities did not dispute that encroachment was happening, the civic body should remove it," he pointed out.