The Tamil Nadu government has fixed a maximum of Rs.100 as court fee in respect of suits filed by religious institutions for restoration of immovable properties and for declaration of title over the immovable properties of temples under the control of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE).

The order was issued on April 9, after the high-level committee headed by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi approved the proposal for reducing the court fee.

There are 38,465 temples, mutts and kattalais under the control of the HR&CE.

“Earlier, we had to pay 7 per cent of the value of the property as court fee. The amount is unthinkable for many temples, suffering from poor source of revenue, especially when the property values are going up. Now we need to pay only Rs.100 irrespective of the value of the property,” P.R. Shampath, Commissioner of the HR&CE, told The Hindu.

Mr. Shampath had sent a request to the government stating that “it entails huge financial burden on the temples for filing declaration suits for retrieval of immovable properties.”

According to the policy note of the department, 34,251 temples fall under the category of those earning below Rs.10,000 per year. Another 3,535 temples earn more than Rs.10,000, but less than Rs.2 lakh. The income of 498 temples crossed Rs.2 lakh, but was below Rs.10 lakh. Only 181 temples have qualified themselves as earning more than Rs.10 lakh per year.

Mr. Shampath explained that the order would be applicable to the cases already pending before courts without payment of court fees. “As per law there is no time limit as far as the cases related to the temple properties are concerned.”

Mr. Shampath said the government appointed a committee comprising the Registrar General of the Madras High Court and Commissioner of the Land Administration to study the request of the department. The proposal of the committee was sent to the high-level committee headed by the Chief Minister, which cleared it.

While issuing the order, the government has also taken into consideration the orders issued for reduction of court fees to a maximum of Rs.15 in respect of suits filed by the Tamil Nadu Wakf Board for declaration of title over the properties held by it.

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