HC slams HR&CE officials for not ‘safeguarding’ temple lands

The contempt petitioner sought action against the HR&CE department officials for not retrieving 18.2 acres of land belonging to Arulmigu Kalatheeswarar temple in Ponneri, Tiruvallur district which is currently under encroachment.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

CHENNAI: Observing that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department officials are not taking steps to prevent the encroachments made in the temple lands, the Madras High Court wanted the government to take action against people who are occupying the temple lands.

The first bench comprising Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N Mala passed the direction on hearing a contempt petition filed by Srinivasan, a resident of Tiruvallur. The contempt petitioner sought action against the HR&CE department officials for not retrieving 18.2 acres of land belonging to Arulmigu Kalatheeswarar temple in Ponneri, Tiruvallur district which is currently under encroachment.

The petitioner submitted that even though the court had ordered the HR&CE department to take action for safeguarding the land, the officials have not complied with the court’s direction.

Recording the submissions, the CJ MN Bhandari observed that the HR&CE officials are drawing salaries from the government and they are good for nothing.

“What the HR&CE officials are doing till the temple lands are encroached by miscreants? They are supposed to take action against people who are encroaching on the HR&CE lands. However, it seems that they are not interested in preventing the encroachments,” the CJ observed.

He further lamented that there are many cases pertaining to the temple land encroachments coming to the HC. “Even as the courts are passing orders to retrieve such illegally occupied temple lands, the HR&CE department is not adhering to the court’s directions,” the bench noted.

While the government advocate submitted that the HR&CE had removed encroachments and retrieved about 1100 acres of temples land in the last year, the court noted that while the encroachments have been made for the past 50 years, the officials are just saying that they have recovered lands occupied in the past year.

The court directed the respondents to file their counter and adjourned the matter by four weeks.

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