Chennai: The Madras high court has directed the commissioner and joint commissioner/executive officer, Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple in Palani to take immediate steps to recover the lands measuring 1,492.38 acres owned by the temple from encroachers and also take appropriate action for recovery of land from the lease-holders, who are either in default of payment of rent or are paying only a meagre amount towards rent.
A division bench comprising Justices M. V. Muralidaran and T. Krishnavalli directed the authorities to take steps immediately and submit their reports as to the steps taken within 3 months.
On a petition, which sought to form a committee to streamline the administration of Sri Subramaniya Swamy Temple at Tiruchendur in Tuticorin district, the bench had issued series of directions and
also directed the district judges to conduct inspection of all temples within their jurisdiction and file a report. Pursuant to the directions, the district judges have conducted inspection, including inspection of the Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple, Palani.
In response to the direction, the joint commissioner/executive officer
of Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple filed a status report to the effect that he had once again verified the entire records and details of immoveable properties belonging to the temple.
The bench said a bare perusal of the report reveals that the Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple, Palani, owns 1,492.38 acres of land.
However, it was seen that most of these land were in the custody of encroachers, lease holders on rental basis etc., and the income being received by the temple from the said occupants was too meagre. Therefore, this court was of the view that immediate steps should be taken by the temple authorities to evict the encroachers and the lease-holders who were paying only pittance, the bench added and gave the above directive. The bench directed the registrar (Judicial), Madurai Bench of the Madras high court, to get further status reports from the district judges qua the progress made pursuant to the periodic inspections being done by them and produce the same before this court on February 11, 2019. Referring to the observations and directions made by the First Bench headed by the then Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul relating to temple properties in the state, the bench directed the Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department, to file a detailed report as to the steps taken by the department to comply with the directions contained in the decision referred above, the strict adherence to which, in our considered opinion, would have warded off a situation as it exists as on date, where vast extent of temple properties were encroached on and let out for meagre sums....