Explore possibility of uniform legislation for places of worship: HC tells Govt

Explore possibility of uniform legislation for places of worship: HC tells Govt
Representational PhotoFile/ GK

Srinagar: The High Court (HC) has asked the government to explore the possibility of having a uniform legislation governing the places of worship in Jammu and Kashmir.

Hearing a petition alleging the encroachment of land belonging to a Shiv temple in north Kashmir’s Gulmarg, a division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar asked Advocate General D C Raina to “explore the possibility of having a uniform legislation governing the places of worship”.

In his plea, the petitioner Ranjeet Gurkha said that he was the president of Shri Shri Jagat Amba Sharika Chakreshwar Sanstha, Hari Parbat, Srinagar which, he said had been looking after the affairs of the Shiv temple at Gulmarg since decades.

While the plea alleges that the property of the temple has been “encroached upon by the Gulmarg Development Authority”, it seeks direction for management and preservation of the temple in terms of provisions of Jammu & Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation and Restraint on Distress Sales) Act, 1997.

The petition underscores that the encroachment of the land was revealed from a “communication” addressed by Tehsildar Tangmarg to Sub Divisional Magistrate Gulmarg.

The communication divulges that after the demarcation process it was found that only 1 kanal and 5 marlas were in possession of the temple out of the 4 kanals and 17 marals of the land.

“The rest of the land has been encroached by the Gulmarg Development Authority,” the petitioner said.

The petition is seeking intervention of the court to restore the possession of the land belonging to the temple in consonance with the demarcation carried out by the authorities concerned.

After hearing the counsel Salih Pirzada on behalf of the petitioner and Advocate General on behalf of the government, the court said that the AG should explore the possibility of having a uniform legislation governing the places of worship.

"There are certain other matters, may be in public interest, relating to the preservation of properties of temples and places of worship and that the matter may be taken up along with pending matters,” the AG told the court . Listing the matter for Monday, the court asked the Deputy Commissioner Baramulla to submit a report as to whether any land of the temple had been encroached upon and was in unauthorised possession of any third party.

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