The HR&CE (Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments) Department took charge of the historic Sri Jalakanteswarar temple in Vellore Fort on Saturday, putting an end to the decade-old legal battle over the temple’s administration.
A team of officials led by assistant commissioner R Parivallal visited the temple on Saturday morning and announced that henceforth the temple would be under the control of the HR&CE department.
In 1921, the temple came under the control of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and between 1930 and 1980 several futile attempts were made to reinstate the idol of the presiding deity.
Finally, on March 16, 1981 a group of ardent devotees restored the Lingam in its original shrine inside Sri Jalakanteswarar Temple. Having restored the diety in the temple, some locals under the name of ‘Jalakanteswarar Dharmastabhanam’ came together to form a registered society and began maintaining the temple.
In 2003, a notification was issued by the HR&CE department that the temple would be taken over. The move was, however, contested by the society as arbitrary and a violation of norms. It took the HR&CE department five years to get a proper notification to take over the temple under Section 46 of the HR&CE Act. This was again contested by the society through a writ petition in the High Court.
The HC had dismissed the claim of the society that the temple was a monument and did not come under the purview of the HR&CE Act. The society went for an appeal in this regard again on December 14, 2012, which was also dismissed by the High Court. According to a government order issued on June 18, 2013, the administration of the temple could be taken over by the HR&CE department.