Justice SM Subramaniam issued the direction while dismissing a plea moved by the Kongu Vellalar Matric Higher Secondary School in Erode represented by its correspondent TN Chenniappan challenging the demand notice issued by HR&CE enhancing the lease amount granted to an extent of 4.02 acres belonging to the Arulmighu Chellandiamman Tirukkovil on which the school has been functioning since 1982.
Directing the competent authority to consider the objections filed by the school on August 13, 2018, and pass final orders within eight weeks, the court also directed the Commissioner to issue a circular to all the subordinate authorities to fix fair rent in respect of all the properties belonging to the religious institutions across TN in accordance with the procedures as contemplated under Section 34-A of the HR&CE Act.
Regarding lease renewal, the authorities were bound to ensure that fair rent fixed as per the Act was paid by the petitioner/school up to date and thereafter take a decision keeping in mind the interest of the temple, the judge added.
“Regarding the portion of land encroached by the petitioner measuring 2.50 acres, the HR&CE Department is at liberty to initiate action under Section 78 of the HR&CE Act,” the court held.
“The Trustees and authorities of the temple must bear in mind that the idol being in position of a minor must be protected and the property belonging to the temple are to be dealt prudently, vigilantly and in the manner known to law. If any such trustee or administrator leaves the idol in lurch, this court is duty bound to step in and initiate action,” the court said.