Madras HC asks HR & CE to retrieve encroached temple lands

File details of sanction for illegal transfer of temple properties'.

Chennai: Pointing out that statistics reveal that a few years ago there were 5.25 lakh acres of land and only 4.78 acres exist now and the balance of nearly 50,000 acres are in the hands of encroachers, the Madras high court has directed the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment department to initiate appropriate steps to retrieve the properties of the temples/religious institutions in the state.

Justice R.Mahadevan gave the directive while setting aside the order of Assistant Commissioner, HR & CE, Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram district, which directed the trustees of Arulmighu Avudainayagi Ambal Sametha Desiganatha Swami Temple in Sivagangai district to approach the civil court by way of an appeal against the judgment of the Principal District Munsif Court, Karaikudi, to recover the temple properties.

Allowing a petition from P.Lakshmanan, hereditary trustee of the temple, the judge directed the Assistant Commissioner, HR & CE, Paramakudi to conduct an enquiry and take steps to recover the property, which is the subject of this petition, from the purchasers, after giving opportunity to all the parties concerned.

The judge directed the HR & CE Commissioner to prepare and file a report specifying the details of the temple lands in Tamil Nadu for which patta has been granted to third parties/encroachers within 4 weeks.

The state revenue secretary shall instruct all the Tahsildars or District Revenue Officers, to take steps to alter the patta granted to the beneficiaries of illegal transfer of land or possession and restore the name of the temple with further direction to refrain from issuing patta without getting written communication from the HR & CE department related to the temple lands, the judge added.

The judge also directed the HR & CE Commissioner to file a report within 4 weeks, disclosing the lands, the details of the sanction granted by him for alienating the properties of the temples in Tamil Nadu either by way of sale, exchange or mortgage or lease beyond 5 years with the copy of the approval obtained from the government and the report of objections from the trustees or interested parties.

“ HR & CE Commissioner shall constitute a committee/committees for each territories/regions and direct the members to visit all the temples in Tamil Nadu, identify the lands belonging to and in the custody of the temple in the hands of the encroachers with the help of the Tahsildars of the respective revenue districts and submit a report before this court within 6 weeks”, the judge added.

The judge gave several other directions which included asking HR & CE Commissioner to issue appropriate directions to his subordinates to ensure that the temple properties were not sold, parted with or leased illegally.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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