PUDUCHERRY:The Madras High Court has directed the Puducherry government to maintain status quo with regard to temple lands under the Hindu Religious Institutions till December 15, after the government issued notification to sell the unused land.
Responding to a petition filed by V Sanil Kumar of Hindu Munnani against the government notification in this regard seeking a stay on all further proceedings on the notification issued in September 4, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam, passed orders on October 29, with a direction for maintenance of status quo as well as file a reply within four weeks and rejoinder within two weeks.
The government issued the notification to sell the unused properties of all temples under Hindu Religious Institutions (HRI) through e- auction and then depositing the money earned through that with the accounts of temples in banks for the maintenance expenses of the temples.
In all, there are 243 temple under HRI, which can approach the government for temple land sale.
This move of the government had met with strong opposition from Hindu Munnani, BJP, Viswakarma Association, former Lok Sabha member M Ramadass, Bangaru Vaickal Neeradhara Koottamaippu (BVNK), a farmers’ association. While the BJP and Hindu Munnani had taken out signature campaigns by invoking the blessings of Lord Vinayaka in addition to petitioning the authorities, Hindu Munnani moved the court.
V Chandrasekhar president of BVNK, petitioned the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with copies to director CBI, Chief Vigilance Commissioner, New Delhi, and Chief Justice, Supreme Court, terming the government order issued in this regard as “irregular, highly corrupt and illegal” and said this seemed to be a pre-election, land scam leading to appropriation of huge tracts of public lands by realtors and private industries.
However, the government authorities maintain that the government notification in this regard has been misunderstood by those opposing the sale of temple land.
The government wants to sell those temple lands which are lying unused for several years without fetching any revenue to the temple, said an official. The temple has to identify such land and then pass a resolution in the governing body and intimate the HRI for sale through e-auction.
The sale of such land would ensure that the temple gets some revenue out of it, which can be utilised for temple rituals and maintenance. The government would soon be filing its counter to get the stay vacated, said the official.