Chennai: Madras high court on Friday directed the government to file statistics regarding the existence of temples, churches and mosques on encroached public land, poramboke lands, water bodies and water resources.
“An encroachment is an encroachment. (An) encroachment can never be allowed or approved,” the court observed while giving the direction. “Even a deity as a legal person cannot commit an act of encroachment. If a deity in a temple commits an act of encroachment, that is also to be dealt with in accordance with the law. Because it is a deity, the rule of law cannot be diluted.”
Justice S.M.Subramaniam, who gave the order, said: “All concerned are bound to follow the rule of law and respect the law for an orderly society and to respect the sentiments of their neighbours and other citizens.”
The judge said a large number of temples were being constructed by the land mafia and greedy men on encroached upon land for their personal gains and unlawful enrichment.
This was causing inconvenience to vehicular traffic and passers-by. “Such temples are constructed without obtaining permission from the competent authorities,” Justice Subramaniam said. “The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department cannot encourage such attitude of the people in respect of construction of temples by encroaching public land and public roads. It amounts to abuse of sentiments and emotions of the people with reference to their religious faiths,” he said.
Suo motu impleading the state as party for the purpose of considering the issues appropriately, the judge asked special government pleader M. Maharaja and additional government pleader
R. Janaki to take notice of the impleaded respondents. Counsels were requested to file counters and statistics regarding such places of worship on public land, poramboke land, water bodies and water resources.
The judge posted to January 21 further hearing of a petition filed by K. Ramakrishnan, seeking removal of an unauthorised construction, a Vinayagar temple, in the Revenue Divisional Office in Coimbatore district.