Amendment to the HR and CE Act causes anxiety among delta farmers

The recent amendment of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act, 1959, brought in presumably to check the ‘increasing unlawful possession’ of agricultural lands belonging to religious and charitable institutions has caused anxiety among delta farmers who fear that misuse of the provision could not be ruled out completely.

A good number of farmers in the delta districts have taken on lease agriculture lands belonging to the religious and charitable institutions managed directly or supervised by the HR and CE Department for cultivation.

For instance, around 50 acres of agricultural land belonging to Thyagarajaswamy Temple in Tiruvarur at Kakkarai hamlet in Thanjavur district was taken on lease by around 10 farmers in the hamlet and they were carrying on agricultural activities on these lands for years together, according to the State vice-president of Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangangalin Koot Iyakkam R. Sugumaran of Kakkarai.

Hitherto, any dispute or issues that cropped up between the tenant farmers and the lessors remained out of the purview of the courts, as such issues were normally heard and settled finally by the HR and CE Commissioner.

Now with the amending of the sub-section (3) of Section 79-B of the Act, the chances of victimisation of tenant farmers or termination of lease agreement by filing litigations in a court not inferior to that of a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class (as per the HR and CE Act) by third parties ‘having interest in the affairs of the religious institutions’ with the connivance of the trustees or officials or by the trustees or by the officials could not be ruled out, Mr. Sugumaran contended.

While welcoming the amendment, the general secretary of Federation of Farmers Associations in Delta Districts P. Kalyanam of Arupathi in Mayiladuthurai district insisted that the government should ensure that the amendment brought in with an objective to safeguard the interest of the religious and charitable institutions were not misused against the registered tenant farmers.

Meanwhile, general secretary of Thamizhaga Cauvery Vivasayigal Sangam P. R. Pandian of Mannargudi in Tiruvarur district said that already the Department had initiated legal proceedings against a large number of tenant farmers citing non-honouring of lease agreements overlooking the crop loss sustained by the lessees due to the vagaries of Nature over the years.

Passing an amendment of this stature at this juncture led to trepidation among the farmers that it would only jeopardise their prospects, he said.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 4:08:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/amendment-to-the-hr-and-ce-act-causes-anxiety-among-delta-farmers/article36499556.ece

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