HC mulls CBI probe into Hanuman statue construction issue

The Delhi High Court today said it will ask the CBI to probe how the famous 108-foot Hanuman statue came to be built on public land in the busy Karol Bagh area of the city and take action against the officials of the DDA and municipal corporation who allowed it to happen.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said that while it cannot go after individual unauthorised buildings, builders, or the "hapless people" who are buying them, "the time has come" to ensure that the authorities comply with the laws.

"We propose to send it (the case) to the CBI," the court said and asked the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the municipal corporation of the area to give the names of its officials who have been posted in the area since 1995, when construction of the huge statue had started.

The court said the list of names given by the corporation was "incomplete" and "unacceptable" and directed it to give a complete list by December 19, the next date of hearing. A similar direction was issued to the DDA as well.

The corporation in its affidavit has said it has taken action to remove some of the encroachments around the statue and commercial activity outside the temple has been stopped.

The court, however, said the civic body has withheld vital information about when the road and pavement adjacent to the statue came under its control.

Meanwhile, the Delhi police told the bench that it was interrogating the trustees running the temple and was also looking into its source of funding.

The agency said the temple has an account, containing Rs 11 lakh, in a UCO Bank branch at Model Basti area here along with a fixed deposit of Rs 40 lakh.

It said that these cannot be the only funds of the trust whose sole source of earning is the temple which has been running from 1978. However, the statue was completely built in 2002, it told the court.

Police, represented by Delhi government additional standing counsel Satyakam, said that the general manager of the UCO Bank was asking for 30-60 days to provide information about who all deposited cheques in the trust's account.

The bench, thereafter, directed the GM of the bank to provide the information sought by the police at the earliest and not later than two weeks.

The DDA and the corporation told the court that neither the temple nor the trust was paying any property tax to them.

The court had ordered a police probe after a committee appointed by it in May this year to look into illegal constructions all over Delhi had pointed to encroachments of up to 1,170 square yards on DDA land which forms part of the Southern Ridge.

It had also said that apart from the Hanuman statue, there was unauthorised construction of multiple small and big buildings of up to four floors including a residential complex there.

The bench had then directed the authorities to take action against the unauthorised construction on public land and ensure that all encroachments on the Southern Ridge are removed immediately and the Ridge is secured in terms of the orders of the Supreme Court.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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