The Madras High Court on Wednesday observed that temple lands should only be used only for religious functions of the temple and should not be leased or alienated since they stand as identification to the knowledge of people in science, arts and sculpture in the past.
The court, while making the observation, directed the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department to take note and remove the encroachments on temple lands with the help of an officer for filing periodic reports.
The single-judge bench was hearing a batch of pleas against the encroachment of Sri Sakthi Muthamman temple near Neelankarai and Arulmighu Kottai Mariamman temple in Salem.
Justice Mahadevan said that the temple is not only a source of ancient culture but also stands as a testimony for pride and knowledge of the ancient people in arts, science, sculpture and a channel for spiritual pursuit, as per reports.
Hence, the judge said that the religious properties should be maintained but the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department, which is in charge of maintaining the temple has not taken steps to protect the temples with regard to the case at hand.
The court then directed the HR&CE department to take action for retrieving the land and remove encroachments on Sri Sakthi Muthamman Temple, Neelankarai and Arulmighu Kottaimariamman Thirukoil in Salem, said reports.
The judge also directed HR&CE to collect rent for the building constructed on temple land by the Fisheries department near Neelankarai after drafting an agreement.
The court also said that HR and CE Department should take steps to start construction of compound walls for the temples lands and should maintain a register with financial aspects of temples and properties. The report should be submitted before an authority at regular intervals, the court said.
Making the observations, the court posted the matter for hearing after six months.