Concerted Efforts by State Departments Necessary to Restore Temple Properties & Recover Monetary Loss: Madras High Court

The review meetings were conducted by the District Collectors. However, there is lack of coordination between the Departments and only through joint actions by the Departments, the issues can be resolved in an efficient manner. The illegalities are not only confined to the HR & CE Department. These were upheld by High Court of Madras through the learned bench of Honourable Mr. Justice S.M. Subramaniam in the case A. Radhakrishnan v. Secretary to Government & Ors.( W.P.No.27646 of 2021)

The crux of the case is petitioner in person states that for the past about 25 years, he has involved in to secure and safeguard the temple properties and to restore the said properties for the benefit of the temples concerned. The petitioner states that in Krishnagiri District, while inspecting several temples, the properties worth about several crores belong to many temples are being looted and large scale of illegal mining operations are permitted with the active and passive collusion of the public officials. The petitioner made several representations approached the authorities in person, participated in review meetings conducted and he relies on the orders of the District Collector, Krishnagiri in proceeding dated February 2018 wherein the District Collector raised 15 queries for collecting the details and for initiation of further action in respect of the fact that the District Collector considered the seriousness of the issue and insisted the competent authorities of the HR & CE Department to ascertain the details for the purpose of initiation of action. Though the District Collector issued the proceedings in the year 2018, no much progress has been made by the authorities on account of lack of coordination between the Department and therefore, the petitioner is constrained to move the present Writ Petition.

The learned Special Government Pleader appearing on behalf of the HR & CE Department and the learned Additional Government Pleader appearing on behalf of the other Government Departments, made submissions stating that actions are initiated in respect of the serious allegations raised by the petitioner. The District Collector convened meetings and review meetings and on 23.11.2011, the Officials from various Departments participated in the review meeting conducted through video Conferencing and certain required particulars were also collected and discussions were made for further actions. In this regard, show cause notice was issued by the Director of Geology and Mining to initiate action against the allegations of illegal mining operations.

 The bench of Honourable Mr. Justice S.M. Subramaniam while disposing if the petition observed and stated “This Court is frequently receiving several such allegations of abuse of temple properties and fraudulent registration of the documents in respect of the temples properties, non-collection of lease amount is also an issue, which is to be looked into by the authorities when the provisions of the HR & CE Act unambiguously stipulates that the manner in which the temple properties are to be leased out or dealt with and regarding fixing of fair rent, recovery of rent etc. It is unfortunate that none of the provisions are implemented properly, which resulted in looting of the properties by few greedy men and the persons, who have been involved in such illegalities. There are large scale allegations regarding the administration of temple properties across the State of Tamil Nadu. Recently, there are instances of recovery of properties by the HR & CE Department and the actions would not be sufficient to deal with the issues as a whole

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Judgement reviewed by Himanshu Ranjan

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