Tamil Nadu

SC stays Madras HC order permitting use of temple land to construct Kallakurichi Collectorate

The Supreme Court has stayed the operation of an order passed by the Madras High Court permitting the State government to take 35 acres of the Nareeswarar Temple land at Veeracholapuram on lease   | Photo Credit: V. GANESAN

The Supreme Court has stayed the operation of an order passed by the Madras High Court on February 12 permitting the State government to take 35 acres of the Nareeswarar Temple land at Veeracholapuram on lease for constructing a collectorate for the newly carved out Kallakurichi district.

Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari granted the interim stay on an appeal preferred by activist Rangarajan Narasimhan.

According to the appellant, the government had initially decided to acquire the temple land for a paltry consideration of ₹1.98 crore and issued a Government Order to that effect on September 19, 2020. He opposed the move and filed a writ petition in the High Court. Subsequently, the State came up with another GO on November 28, 2020 deciding to take the land on lease instead.

Interestingly, the second GO had valued the property at ₹12.89 crore and arrived at a monthly rent of ₹1.3 lakh being 0.01% of the value of the property. Though the value of the property had been increased manifold within a short span of time, the fixation of the value was still flawed since the land was actually worth over ₹336 crore, the appellant claimed.

He pointed out that Section 34 of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Act of 1959 requires the sanction of the Commissioner if a temple property had to be alienated for a term exceeding five years. Accusing the HR&CE Commissioners of according such sanction for every other State project without considering the welfare of individual temples, the litigant said, the November 2020 GO does not even specify the period of lease.

Mr. Narasimhan also contended that the move to use the temple lands for constructing buildings for the offices of the Collector, Superintendent of Police and others was in violation of the provisions of Tamil Nadu Change of Land Use (from agriculture to non-agricultural purposes in non-planning areas) Rules of 2017. He said the State had taken advantage of the absence of trustees to maintain the temple properties.

Though he had brought all these issues to the notice of the High Court in his second writ petition challenging the government’s decision to take the temple land on lease, the court refused to interfere with the decision to take the property on lease but decided to fix a just compensation by conducting a fair valuation. Aggrieved over such an order, the litigant had moved the present appeal before the Supreme Court and obtained a stay.


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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 4:00:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sc-stays-madras-hc-order-permitting-use-of-temple-land-to-construct-kallakurichi-collectorate/article36561633.ece

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