Tamil Nadu

‘Queensland amusement park can’t squat on public property without paying a penny’

A view of the Madras High Court buildings in Chennai.   | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

A tussle between the Revenue department and a temple over the ownership of a valuable property spread over 19 acres on Chennai-Bengaluru highway cannot be a reason for the management of Queensland amusement park to squat on the land and exploit it commercially for decades together, the Madras High Court has held.

Justice M. Sundar observed that a private institution could not be permitted to squat on a public property without paying a penny either to the State government or the temple since 1997. It was the duty of the courts to protect and safeguard properties of religious and charitable institutions from wrongful claims, he wrote.

The judge directed the Kasi Viswanathaswamy temple management to kick-start proceedings under Section 78 of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Act of 1959 by reporting about the alleged encroachment to the officials concerned who were empowered to initiate eviction proceedings in accordance with law.

The direction was issued while dismissing a writ petition filed in 2013 by Chennai-based Rajam Hotels Private Limited which runs a hotel as well as the theme park on the disputed land. The petition was filed against a notice issued to it by Sriperumbudur Tahsildar on August 1, 2013, demanding a lease amount of ₹1.08 crore for the land.

On November 18, 2013, a single judge of the High Court had stayed the operation of the notice and the interim order was in operation since then. When Justice Sundar took the case for final hearing now, the petitioner’s counsel said that the disputed land was part of a much larger extent of 254 acres endowed to the temple in 1883.

Concluding that the petitioner was liable to pay money to the State, be it the Revenue Department or HR&CE Department, the judge ordered that the company must first settle the revenue and pay the balance to the temple, which had demanded more money than the Tahsildar.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 4:21:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/queensland-amusement-park-cant-squat-on-public-property-without-paying-a-penny/article37061259.ece

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