Tamil Nadu

Court restrains Tamil Nadu government from finalising sale of temple property in Kulithalai

The Madras High Court has restrained the State government and the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department from taking a final decision on the proposed sale of 4.67 acres of the ancient Kadambaneshwarar Temple land to the Kulithalai Municipality in Karur district, for establishment of a new bus stand.

Justices M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha passed the interim order on a public interest litigation petition filed by local resident V. Seetharaman. They also granted him liberty to participate in an inquiry to be conducted at the HR&CE Commissioner’s office in Chennai on Thursday and raise his objections to the proposed sale.

Senior counsel S. Parthasarathy, representing the petitioner, told the court that the temple located on the banks of Cauvery, had a rich history dating back to several centuries. It owned over 348 acres of land. As per a well settled legal position, temple properties belong to the deity, considered a minor, and the courts act as parens patriae.

Any proposal for sale of temple property must emanate from the temple administration if there were sound reasons and then get approved by the government. However, in the present case, “the cart had been put before the horse” with the government taking the decision first and then asking the management to follow it up, he said.

The senior counsel pointed out that a Government Order was issued on May 19 with regard to the proposed sale, at the instance of the Kulithalai municipality, and it even fixed the value of the property to be ₹86.82 lakh. The total value included ₹86.10 lakh for the land and the rest of ₹72,100 for the trees that had grown on the property.

It was only after taking all these decisions that the government had asked the HR &CE Commissioner to conduct an inquiry and call for suggestions or objections to the proposed sale of the temple land. Such a course adopted by the government was directly in contravention of Section 34 of the HR &CE Act of 1959, Mr. Parthasarathy argued.

On the other hand, Additional Advocate General S.R. Rajagopal said the sale was yet to be finalised and that he would file a detailed counter affidavit on the issue after the conclusion of the inquiry on Thursday. Accepting his request, the judges adjourned the case by four weeks after directing the government to not finalise the sale.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 2:32:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/court-restrains-tamil-nadu-government-from-finalising-sale-of-temple-property-in-kulithalai/article32050016.ece

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