MADURAI:The Madurai Bench of the Madras HC dismissed a PIL seeking to direct the state government to retrieve temple lands encroached by those with political influence.
Petitioner, K K Ramesh, coordinator of Centre for Public Interest Litigation, a Madurai based NGO, submitted that 4.22 lakh acres of land belonging to 38,615 temples under the Hindu Religious and Endowment Department was allegedly encroached upon by people having political clout.
Further, 22,600 buildings attached to these temples continue to be under the control of such persons. Despite making huge profits by renting out these premises, they were paying a pittance as rent to the temple authorities. For example, if the rent is fixed as Rs 3000 according to current market value, these persons are paying only Rs 50, claimed Ramesh.
Taking the case of Thanjavur district, he submitted that nearly one-lakh acres of land attached to the Brahadeeswara temple has been under encroachment. Yet, HR and CE officials have failed to take action against the encroachers, he alleged. Hence, he sought a direction to the state government to retrieve the lands and form a high level committee comprising retired judicial officials, intellectuals and members of civil society in each district to regularise temple properties.
When the petition came up for hearing, Justice R Sudhakar and Justice V M Velumani toldRameshthat HR and CE officials would take action on his complaints and dismissed the plea.