Rajasthan HC endorses police order to bar worship areas on gov’t premises

Bench dismisses a PIL saying police are abiding by the state’s secular laws

Rajasthan HC

The Rajasthan High Court dismissed a petition challenging the state police’s decision to prohibit shrines inside government premises in an order dated November 11, 2021.

A Bench led by Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Rekha Borana heard a PIL by petitioner Pooja Gurnani, who claimed the police had interfered with religious beliefs by issuing a circular preventing the construction of religious structures inside government areas. This circular is in line with the State Religious Buildings and Places Act 1954 that says places of worship cannot be constructed in public places, government buildings, parks and other places, unless the District Collector and civic authorities allow it.

Accordingly, the Court referred to the October 25 document and said in its order, “The operative portion is in the last paragraph [of the circular] in which, as noted above all that the authority issuing the circular desires is that the provisions of the Act of 1954 should be implemented scrupulously by all concerned. We don’t see how the petitioner can be said to be aggrieved by this circular.”

Further, the court also dismissed Gurnani’s demand that government buildings and police stations be excluded from “public places” under the 1954 Act. Justice Kureshi explained that “no direction can be issued to the legislature to frame a law in a particular manner.”

Welcoming the court’s decision, the State Chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) pointed out that temple construction is done persistently across Rajasthan’s police stations.

In a previous survey of the State Secretariat courtyard, Rajasthan High Court courtyard and all other government buildings and courtyards in the first decade of the twenty-first century, it found that more than a dozen temples existed at these sites.

“There is a need for strict implementation of this order and a tremendous initiative. This means that the police department must stand with the officer who will implement this law because the forces of so-called Hindutva will suddenly fall behind on that person,” said PUCL President Kavita Srivastava.

The PUCL previously wrote many letters to various concerned officials demanding strict compliance of the said law. Following the Additional Director General of Police’s order, it called upon all government departments to issue similar circulars so that the construction of any religious structures in public areas can be stopped.


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