Karnataka Assembly passes Religious Structures bill to protect unauthorised temples in public places

Basavaraj S Bommai
Basavaraj S Bommai. File photo: IANS

Bengaluru: The Karnataka Assembly on Tuesday passed the Karnataka Religious Structures (Protection) Bill, a day after introducing it. The bill was passed by voice vote on Tuesday night.

The government introduced the bill after it came under attack from within the BJP as well as Congress and various pro-Hindu organisations following the demolition of a temple at Nanjangud in Mysuru a few days ago.

The video of the demolished temple, believed to be 120-year-old, was widely shared in the social media.

During the discussion on the bill, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said the government was aware of the demolition of the structure but passed the buck on the officers.

"The structure was razed citing a Supreme Court order in 2009 but many temples were demolished earlier also. Because of Nanjangud temple demolition, you brought the bill but what about those religious structures, which were destroyed earlier?" Siddaramaiah sought to know.

Agreeing with Siddaramaiah, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai conceded that some temples were demolished while others were relocated.

When the Leader of the Opposition said the government was trying to nullify the Supreme Court order by introducing the bill, Bommai retorted, saying that the government was only trying to regularise such unauthorised temples wherever it is required.

He also clarified that the government had no role in the temple demolition in Nanjangud.

"Let there be no confusion. We (government) did not order demolition," Bommai stated.

Explaining the circumstances which compelled the government to bring the bill, BJP MLA S A Ramadas said the Supreme Court while passing the order pertaining to the illegal religious structures at public places in Gujarat, directed all the state governments to furnish details of such structures illegally occupying public spaces.

The apex court even entrusted the high courts to monitor the proceedings.

While other state governments also gave the rules and regulations to the Supreme Court along with the list of such illegal structures, Karnataka furnished the list along with its policy.

According to him, it became incumbent upon the administration to furnish the details at a regular interval to the High Court.

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