CHENNAI: The Madras High Court had ordered a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department commissioner for not implementing an order of the HC passed on June 21, 2021, that asked the authorities to take action for collecting rents from people who possess the properties of Choolai Arulmigu Sokkavel Subramania Temple, Angalaparameswari Kasi Viswanathar Temple in Chennai.
Justice Anita Sumanth had also imposed Rs 50,000 each on the assistant and joint commissioners concerned, directing all the authorities to pay the costs within two weeks in favor of Adyar Cancer Institute.
The judge expressed dissatisfaction with the report filed by the assistant commissioner since he said that he had an additional role as the executive officer of Thiruvallikkeni Arulmigu Parthasarathyswamy Temple and was burdened with work relating to two posts.
“Even according to the report, the Assistant Commissioner (AC) has effectively commenced functioning from April 2021, but there is nothing to explain the delay in complying with the directions of the court till date,” the court noted, adding that apart, “the officer does not even express any regret and is brazen about the non-compliance.”
The judge passed the orders on disposing of a contempt petition filed by B Sukumar, a former trustee of the above-mentioned Temple.
The petitioner sought a direction to take action against the HR&CE authorities for not implementing the June 21, 2021 order of the court directing the officers to take action under Section 78 of the HR&CE Act, 1951 expeditiously against five lessees who did not remit the rent for possessing the properties of the temple.
The respondent officer / AC claimed that due to the bifurcation of enquiries before the joint commissioners as Joint Commissioner- I and Joint Commissioner – II based on the locations of the temples, the case-related documents were misplaced.
“The misplaced case bundles were traced by the HR&CE AC level only in May 2022. The Assistant Commissioner gave a report in May 2022, upon, I have issued a summon for hearing on July 28, 2022,” the HR&CE officer added.
The court rejected such submissions observing that in spite of the complaint filed by the executive officer in March 2021, no action has been taken by the assistant commissioner or by the joint commissioner in regard to the directions of the court.