Government cannot use temple lands for any purpose other than for religious functions : Madras High Court rules and orders removal of encroachments


Chennai – Observing that temples have a perpetual right of possession and enjoyment over parcels of temple land, the Madras High Court made it clear that the State Government cannot use temple lands for any purpose other than for holding religious functions.

“This Court, time and again, has observed that temples in Tamil Nadu are not only a source of identification of the ancient culture but also a testimony of pride and knowledge of talent in the field of arts, science and sculpture and a conduit for spiritual activities”, Justice R Mahadevan said on 4th November. (Why can the Government not realise what the Court understands ? Or does the Government feel that temples are to be milked ? – Editor)

The Court also directed the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department to identify and safeguard all temple lands from encroachments with an officer-in-charge filing periodical reports. (Why does the Court need to give such directives ? Does the Government not realise this ? – Editor)

“It is made clear that the land parcels belonging to the subject temples shall not be alienated or leased or encumbered illegally and against the interests of such temples”, the Court said.

The case pertains to the encroachment of lands of the Sakthi Muthamman Temple near Neelankarai and the Kottai Mariamman Temple in Salem. The Court also observed that the properties of religious institutions, particularly temples, have to be maintained properly. (The Government usually neglects the upkeep of temples after taking them over. Therefore, temples should be managed by the devotees only. The Court is also expected to issue orders in this context. – Editor)