The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday took the BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar to task while hearing a petition on a temple that has encroached a footpath in Bengaluru’s Malleshwaram area. Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and justice SR Krishna Kumar were hearing the petition and said that the Karnataka government better transfer the BBMP commissioner as “he lacks minimum knowledge of the law”.
The division bench of Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice SR Krishna Kumar rapped BBMP Commissioner Anil Kumar while hearing the PIL regarding the Venkateshwara Temple that was illegally constructed at Malleswaram 16th cross.
The BBMP Commissioner admitted that the temple was illegally constructed. He also said that a survey was being conducted and documents were being verified verified to take action against the temple. Objecting to the BBMP Commissioner’s plan of action, Chief Justice Oka said, “If somebody builds a temple on the footpath in front of Vidhana Soudha, what will the BBMP Commissioner do? Is he going to demolish it under section 321 of the Karnataka Municipal Council (KMC) Act or look for documents on ownership of the land?” the bench questioned the BBMP Commissioner.
Chief Justice Abhay Oka also stated that putting an officer like Anil Kumar “in such a responsible post would not be good for the city or the government” and that the Commissioner’s “adverse statement on the matter cannot be tolerated”, according to a report.
The bench also directed the BBMP to not turn a blind eye to religious structures that encroach on public spaces like parks, playground, lakes and footpaths.
Counsel representing the petitioner, AV Amarnath, contended that the temple encroached the road and footpath. However, the BBMP had not mentioned that in its clarification issued to the court on Wednesday. The temple is 35 years old in a private layout and the land was handed over to the BBMP after the temple was constructed, the counsel for the temple argued.
The temple management has appealed to the BBMP to grant the land back. However, this request has not been approved. The counsel also said that the temple management was ready to hand over the temple to Muzrai department.
However, the bench disagreed and directed the BBMP to take over the land that was encroached upon.