Justice R. Mahadevan of the Madras High Court on Thursday said though the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department had begun to recover temple properties from illegal occupation after a series of orders passed by the court in the recent years, its past performance was not up to the mark.
During the course of hearing of a batch of temple related cases by a special Division Bench comprising himself and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu, the senior judge said when there were more than 46,000 temples under the control of the department, it became imperative for it to ensure that they were maintained well.
Referring to numerous cases filed by activists such as Rangarajan Narasimhan, T.R. Ramesh, R. Venkataraman and advocate S. Padma for safeguarding temple properties, the judge said, the issues which they brought to light were those that ought to have been attended by the officials of the HR&CE Department.
Special Government Pleader (HR&CE) N.R.R. Arun Natarajan said many officials worked sincerely and referred to a 51-year-old woman Executive Officer who had died recently leaving behind a college going girl. He also stated that the department had recovered thousands of acres of temple lands from encroachments.
Making it clear that the efforts taken by the sincere officials were always appreciated by the court, the judge said the department had begun to recover valuable temple properties only pursuant to the court orders. He also asked the officials to not consider the temple activists as their rivals.
“They (activists) only want to protect the heritage and culture of our land,” the judge told the SGP.
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