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Can the Temple be ordered by a writ of speedy execution to use donated funds for the development of parking lots?: Himachal Pradesh High Court

Court reasoned that Article 300 A gives the State the authority to confiscate private property without compensation, is upheld by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh through the learned Judge JUSTICE TARLOK SINGH CHAUHAN and  JUSTICE CHANDER BHUSAN BAROWALIA, in the case of Anant Sharma v. Ashok Sharma, (CWP No. 2570 of 2019).

Brief facts of the case:

The petitioner, who describes himself as “social and public-spirited,” has filed the present petition seeking a “writ in the nature of writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order, or direction” directing the respondents to identify the land in and around Shri Mata Chintpurni Ji Temple for the construction of parking facility to the devotees who used to come there to pay obeisance from all over the country.

The petition’s legal team argued that the government’s failure to adequately provide parking for devotees around Mata Shri Chintpurni Temple, which was acquired by the state under the Himachal Pradesh Hindu Public Religious Institution and Charitable Endowments Act, 1984, has led to chaotic parking and the extortion of worshippers. It was further argued that in previous years, local residents around the temple have offered the temple their property for free so that it can build parking spaces, but the respondents have paid little attention to these offers.

Further, it was stated that one Sanjay Kumar S/o Babli Ram was willing to offer his 4 Kanals of land for the construction of parking free of charge; however, the terms and conditions under which he was offering the said land, namely, one month time for operation of parking from the offered land, were deemed unreasonable, and the temple trust resolved, via resolution, not to accept any conditional gift and only accept unconditional gifts.

The former president of the Gram Panchayat, Kewal Krishan, stepped in to say that the Temple trust had supplied enough money for parking since, during Navratras and melas, all traffic is halted at Bharwain due to the crowds, and everyone walks the rest of the way to the Temple. As a result, the petitioner’s prefered parking location is likewise off-limits during melas and Navratra. When pressed further, he argued that the Trust should have no problem offering open ground for parking at places where the land for the parking facilities has been donated.

JUDGEMNET:

Since the Court has no authority to formulate policies, it cannot order their creation in the absence of an actual policy, as the Court correctly noted is the sole province of the government, the Court reasoned that Article 300 A gives the State the authority to confiscate private property without compensation. As was previously stated, any confiscation of private property must serve a compelling public interest and be authorised by an act of Congress or a state legislature rather than an administrative fiat or order. When a person’s property is taken for what is ostensibly a public purpose, the taking must be in the public interest and not in the owner’s.

The Court further noted that any act or statute which improperly takes someone’s private property for someone else’s benefit is unjust, unconstitutional, and susceptible to judicial scrutiny. Noncompliance with the letter and spirit of the statute enabling the confiscation of property constitutes a violation of Article 300A. Any law that is deemed unreasonable or that violates any other parts of the Constitution will be reviewed by the courts.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – HARILAKSHMI

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