A division bench of the Madras high court comprising Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice T.V. Thamilselvi had directed the state government council Richard Wilson to act on behalf of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department and to file a counter affidavit by July 5 on the missing 47000 acres of temple land as per government records.
Tamil Nadu minister for HR and CE, PK Sekar Babu while speaking to IANS said, "Chief Minister MK Stalin is keen that the temple lands are restored and that the interests of the temples are taken care of. We have found that houses were constructed in some areas on temple land. We are taking steps to ensure that these house owners become tenants and pay rent to the temple."
The HR&CE department confirmed that the government is in the process of restoring temple land and already details of 3,43,647 acres of temple land have been verified. The department has compared the data available with it and that with the Tamil Nadu government's revenue department in the state's land record registry.
A senior official with HR&CE told IANS, "We have already uploaded details of the title documents, chittas, and even gift deeds belonging to thousands of temples in the state in the HR&CE website and people can easily get complete details of the land with the temples."
BJP leader and party spokesman KT Raghavan told IANS, "We will have to see how serious the Tamil Nadu government is in this regard. The Madras high court has already asked the HR&CE department to file a counter-affidavit regarding the disparity of temple land records in the policy notes of the state government in 1984 when it was 5.25 lakh acres and in 2019-20 when it was reduced to 4.78 lakh acres - a difference of 47,000 acres. If the government does not take steps to retrieve the temple land from encroachers, the BJP will launch major agitations across the state."