Tamil Nadu

HC warns HR&CE Department of action

The Madras High Court on Thursday impressed upon the State government the need to ensure that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department gets into action to save temple properties. Concerned over numerous cases filed in the court about the misappropriation of temple properties, the court warned that it might have to come down hard if the Department did not act on its own.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy made the observations while hearing a contempt of court petition filed against top government officials for having allegedly failed to recover the lands of the Agatheshwarar Temple at Nungambakkam. Petitioner J. Mohanraj said HR&CE officials had failed to recover the lands sold illegally by the erstwhile trustees, despite a court order passed on February 19, 2019.

P.T. Perumal, counsel for the petitioner, brought it to the notice of the court that a souvenir brought out by the temple in 1988 had mentioned that it was in possession of 340 grounds of land. Subsequently, information obtained under the Right to Information Act, 2005, disclosed that the temple was in possession of 307 grounds. Now, in a status report filed before the court, the HR&CE Department stated that the temple was only in possession of 93 grounds.

The report also said 107 grounds had been sold by the erstwhile trustees. Referring to the differing figures being provided since 1988, counsel insisted that the HR&CE Commissioner be directed to explain the steps taken to recover large tracts of land that was sold illegally.

Finding force in his submissions, the judges directed the Department to file a status report within three weeks.

“We note that in most cases pertaining to temples under the HR&CE Department, the officials concerned have been negligent in resuming temple properties that had been transferred to others unauthorisedly. Unless immediate measures are taken by the Department, more drastic measures may be called for,” the court warned.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 4:24:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-warns-hrce-department-of-action/article35354231.ece

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