Kerala High Court Orders Removal of Illegal Religious Structures from Government Land

The Kerala High Court has issued a strict directive that no illegal religious structures should be allowed on government land, regardless of the religion involved. This ruling came as part of a judgment on a plea by the Plantation Corporation of Kerala Ltd., which is seeking to reclaim properties leased to it that have been encroached upon.

Justice P V Kunhikrishnan emphasized the omnipresence of God, stating that there is no need for believers to encroach on government land to erect religious structures. “God will be more pleased if the land is used for the benefit of mankind, such as distributing it to the landless,” he remarked. The court believes that such actions will bring blessings to all believers and contribute to communal harmony.

The May 27 order not only supports the corporation’s plea to evict encroachers but also mandates a thorough enquiry by district collectors to identify any unauthorized religious symbols or structures on government land. Collectors are instructed to conduct these enquiries within six months and to evict any illegal structures within the same timeframe, ensuring all parties affected are heard.

The high court’s directive extends to requesting a report on the actions taken, which should be presented to the court within a year. Justice Kunhikrishnan warned against the trend of erecting temporary religious symbols on public and government lands, which often escalate into permanent structures, potentially leading to communal strife.

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The order also reflects concerns about the misuse of religious structures for political purposes, as highlighted by the corporation in its plea. The court noted that such actions not only usurp government land but also provoke law and order challenges, underlining the importance of adhering to the secular values enshrined in India’s constitution.

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