Notice to government on Devaryamjal temple lands inquiry

Telangana High Court on Saturday issued notices to State government and Sitaramachandraswamy temple of Devaryamjal in Shamirpet on Hyderabad outskirts, after hearing a writ petition challenging Government Order (GO) 1014 relating to the temple’s lands.

Justice T. Vinod Kumar, who heard the plea moved as House Motion the previous day, instructed the government and the temple authorities to file their responses over the contentions of the petitioners. The plea was filed by Sada Satyanarayana and four others seeking a direction to stay the operation of the GO.

The GO was issued on May 3 constituting a committee of four IAS officers to decide the ownership of 1,395 acres of land located in Devaryamjal of Shamirpet mandal of Medchal Malkajgiri district under different survey numbers. The petitioners wanted the court to stall the inquiry by the committee stating that their ownership of 59 acres of land would be questioned through the inquiry. They maintained that a proceeding issued earlier by Endowments department declaring that they had encroached upon the temple land was already set aside by the High Court.

Justice Vinod Kumar, however, declined to pass order staying the GO and inquiry. The judge instructed the committee of officials formed by the State government to serve notice to the petitioners and give them an opportunity to present their contentions. Notices should also be given to any other person objecting to the inquiry. The judge directed the authorities not to interfere with the possession of the lands of the petitioners since the inquiry was only to present a report to the government.

The parties connected to the lands must cooperate with the inquiry committee by submitting all their relevant documents, the order said. Petitioners’ counsel Vivek Reddy informed the court that the Endowments department (whose proceedings declaring that petitioners encroached upon temple lands was set aside) was yet to prove in the court their ownership of the lands.

Advocate General B.S. Prasad told the court that the inquiry was meant to arrive at a clear picture about the boundaries and ownership disputes connected to 1,395 acres of land. In addition to the inquiry, a survey would also be conducted to ascertain ownership of the lands, he said. He informed the court that all others claiming ownership of the lands, barring the petitioners, were cooperating with the authorities.

The judge wondered why the government felt a sudden need to order for an inquiry into the land when the disputes arose way back in 1996. “Does it not create suspicion among people... under what provision of law you intend to conduct an inquiry that too not putting the parties on notice,” the judge observed.

The claim of urgency was also not reflected in the GO. The judge asked why the government took up the issue of lands belonging to Sitaramachandraswamy temple in Devaryamjal urgently when there were allegations galore about lands of several other prominent temples being encroached upon.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 11:01:18 PM |

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