‘Building Haj House Secular Activity, Not Religious’: Bombay High Court To Hindutva Leader

‘Building Haj House Secular Activity, Not Religious’: Bombay High Court To Hindutva Leader

“You must differentiate between indulgence of the state in religious activity and secular activity. Construction of a Haj house is a secular activity. It is not a religious activity. Do not confuse yourself,” said the Chief Justice.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, September 07, 2023, 06:49 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

Building a Haj house is a “secular activity, not religious”, said the Bombay High Court on Thursday while hearing a plea by Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote, associated with the Samast Hindu Aghadi. 

A division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhayaya and Justice Arif Doctor was hearing a plea by Ekbote seeking to demolish a Haj house in Pune which is currently under construction. 

“You must differentiate between indulgence of the state in religious activity and secular activity. Construction of a Haj house is a secular activity. It is not a religious activity. Do not confuse yourself,” said the Chief Justice. 

Court converts Ekbote's petition into PIL

The bench also converted Ekbote’s petition into a public interest litigation (PIL) petition noting that he did not have any personal interest in the case. 

Advocate Kapil Rathod, appearing for Ekbote, told the court that there had been a “change in land use” as the site was reserved for providing basic amenities to people in and around the Kondhwa area of Pune. He argued that the land use had been changed to construct the Haj house.

He argued that the construction of a Haj house comes under “religious activity” and that it was not acceptable in the current scenario. “How come only one community gets the benefit? There are lakhs of devotees who come to Pandharpur but nothing is done for them,” Rathod submitted. 

Land use not change: PMC

Pune Municipal Corporation’s advocate Abhijit Kulkarni said the land use was not changed. He said different communities get space for their cultural and community activities at the site. Kulkarni pointed out from Ekbote’s plea that two floors of the building had already been constructed. 

The bench asked the State to file its reply to the PIL. 

The court also asked Rathod to concentrate on the Haj house matter. The CJ said: “Where is the change in land use? If you build a temple, will it be used by everyone? Please make out a case first and show judgment that a Haj house cannot be constructed.” 

It also asked Rathod to point out in the court documents where it contended that there is change in land use. 

It was a "settled position of law" that the indulgence of the State in religious activity is not permissible, the bench added. 

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