Karnataka High Court orders removal of encroachments around Saumyakeshava temple in Nagamangala

A division bench ordered the DC of Mandya to issue a public show-cause notice in Kannada and English newspapers within two weeks.


Published Nov 19, 2023 | 1:40 PMUpdatedNov 19, 2023 | 1:40 PM

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Taking serious exception to the inaction of the authorities, the High Court of Karnataka directed the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Mandya to follow up on the notices issued to unauthorised and illegal constructions around the Saumyakeshava temple in Nagamangala and remove them as per law.

A division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit on Saturday, 18 November, ordered the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Mandya to issue a public show-cause notice in Kannada and English newspapers within two weeks.

Thereafter, the removal of illegal encroachment should be undertaken within four weeks, the bench said.

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1,566 constructions found 

A total of 1,566 constructions were found to have come up around this archaeological site. The authorities will now have to determine which of these are illegal.

A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in 2015 by BV Lokesh and Vasanth Kumar, residents of Nagamangala, alleging that in contravention of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, a Jama Masjid was built within 120 metres from the temple.

The temple built in the 12th century by Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The PIL pointed out that as per the Act, no construction can be carried out 200 metres from a protected archaeological monument.

The DC of Mandya appeared before the Court on Saturday after the high court ordered his presence during an earlier hearing on 9 October this year.

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Earlier order

On 26 February, 2020, the high court issued directions to the DC to assist the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct a survey of the alleged encroachments and file an affidavit on the action taken on the 52 notices already issued.

The DC was directed to file the affidavit before 31 March, 2020.

In October 2023, the HC noted that “unfortunately, even after a span of three years, there is no progress in the matter, except a submission that there is correspondence between the authorities. It seems that the authorities are only happy to ride paper horses without there being actual progress in the matter.”

The construction was carried out despite the notices issued by the ASI, the PIL said.

“The construction is totally illegal as there is no plan approval, no grant of licenses from any authority. The illegal construction exceeds the height of the ancient monument. The construction of the said building at a height of more than the existing ancient monument will dwarf the same and will reduce its importance and grandeur. This construction is aimed to hurt the sentiments of the devotees,” it claimed.

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