PIL petitioner alleges harassment of devotees by shopkeepers

The Madras High Court Bench here on Monday directed a Joint Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department-cum-Executive Officer of temples in Kanyakumari district to submit details of shops leased out by the department on the Thanumalayan Swamy Temple campus in Suchindram.

A Division Bench of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and V.M. Velumani ordered that the details should be submitted by March 12.

The order was passed in a public interest litigation petition filed by S. Ramesh (56), a resident of Suchindram, through his counsel R. Nandakumar. The petitioner had accused the shop owners of harassing the devotees.

According to him, the Thanumalayan Temple, situated on the banks of Pazhayar, was very famous and visited by people from across the State. However, in the recent past, many individuals had put up shops in the temple by encroaching upon vacant sites. The shopkeepers force the devotees to buy flowers and other puja articles.

They also pick up quarrel with devotees who refuse to purchase them and there had been instances of some people having been beaten up by the shopkeepers, the petitioner added.

He claimed to have sent a representation to the HR and CE officials on November 6, 2013, to evict the encroachers but did not receive a positive reply.

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