Change in policy suggested for protection of temple properties

HC says scrupulous implementation of HR&CE Act & Rules lacking
File photo of Kamakshi Amman temple in Kancheepuram | Express
File photo of Kamakshi Amman temple in Kancheepuram | Express

CHENNAI: Expressing serious concern over the alleged large-scale looting of temple properties, particularly illegal mining on temple land, the Madras High Court (HC) has suggested a change in policy decision in fulfilling the objectives of Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Act and Rules.

Justice SM Subramaniam made the observations recently while disposing of a petition filed by A Radhakrishnan seeking action to stop illegal mining carried out on temple land in Krishnagiri district.
Recalling that the government had taken over the temples and enacted the relevant law after allegations surfacing that trustees were not properly managing the temples properties, the judge said, however, scrupulous implementation of the HR&CE Act and Rules was lacking for several years, resulting in looting of temple properties by persons with muscle power and politicians.

He said such large scale allegations and illegalities may not happen without collusion of the department officers and stressed the need for consistent and efficient action for protection of the properties. “After taking over the temples, the government should not have allowed such illegalities by any person. The department has failed in its objective under the provisions of the Act and, therefore, a change in policy decision may be required,” Justice Subramaniam said.

He added that, in this context, personal liability, which was of paramount importance, must be fixed on the erring officials, and the head of the department must initiate appropriate action against those fail to carryout responsibilities.

The judge directed the Krishnagiri Collector to hold a review meeting in the first week of March to take stock of the situation regarding fraudulent activities and illegal mining and take swift action to prevent them, besides initiating criminal and civil action for recovery of charges from the illegal operators.
Apart from action to prevent further illegal activity, the respondents should take punitive action for lapses, negligence and dereliction of duty on the officials, the judge ordered.

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