The Madras High Court has asked the Tamil Nadu government to stop the construction of Kallakurichi district collectorate on the lands of Sri Nareeswarar Temple in Veeracholapuram.
A High Court bench, comprising Justices M Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha, stayed the construction of the collectorate following a petition filed by temple activist Rangarajan Narasimhan.
Narasimhan, in his petition, complained that the Tamil Nadu government had taken over 35 acres of the Sri Nareeswarar temple lands and the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department had allowed it.
A government order was passed by the HRCE Commissioner on 19 September this year and the lands were being sold at a meagre Rs 1.98 crore, the activist said in his petition.
Narasimhan contended that as per the HR&CE Act only the board of trustees could allow any sale or lease of temple land to anyone but in this case, the HR&CE Department was seeking permission after handing over the lands.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami inaugurated the construction works on 23 October by laying the foundation stone and construction equipment have been pressed into service on the lands, the activist said.
In particular, he said that the hearing of objections to hand over the land was held on 29 October, much later after the construction activities were inaugurated.
Government pleader Jayaprakash Narayanan told the court that only the approach road to the lands had been constructed and no other work had commenced.
Following this, the judges order a stay on construction activities and posted the matter to 9 December for the Tamil Nadu government and HR&CE Department to respond to the plea.
A controversy had broken out over the alienation of the Sri Nareeswarar temple lands by the HR&CE Department for construction of the collectorate for the newly-created Kallakurichi district.
Devotees and activists argue that as per a Supreme Court ruling, the Government cannot take temple lands.
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