Forest area in Alagar hills not temple property: Supreme Court

High Court order in favour of Kallalagar temple in Madurai set aside

Setting aside the Madras High Court judgment, which held that the forest area in Alagar hills belonged to the Kallalagar temple in Madurai, the Supreme Court observed that the finding recorded by the High Court that there was adequate material to prove the same was erroneous.

A Division Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta observed, “ We do not agree that the respondent (temple) was in continuous possession under an assertion of title as there is no evidence on record to reach such a conclusion. The presumption of lost grant is therefore not permissible”.

In 1982, the temple and its devotees filed a suit before a trial court in Madurai for a declaration that the entire forest area in Alagar hills belonged to the Kallalagar temple. Subsequently a relief of possession of the said forest area was sought.

The suit was dismissed by the trial court holding that no evidence was produced to show that the suit property belonged to the temple. The trial court accepted the contention of the government that the area was declared a reserved forest in 1881.

Following the dismissal of the suit, an appeal was preferred before the Madras High Court. In 2003, the High Court ruled in favour of the temple, observing that the temple had continuous possession of the Alagar hills for long and the lost grant was to be presumed.

Allowing the appeal preferred by the State, the Supreme Court in its verdict observed that the right, title or possession of the temple over Alagar hills cannot be determined on the basis of the documents that showed that forest produce were collected by those permitted by the temple.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 3:12:05 AM |

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