The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department to issue consolidated instructions and circulars for the eviction of all commercial establishments inside temples.
Justice S. M. Subramaniam directed the Secretary, Tourism, Culture and HR & CE, and Commissioner, HR & CE, to issue instructions within eight weeks. The court said any violation of the instructions would be viewed seriously and would attract disciplinary action.
The court acknowledged that nearly 36,000 temples were under the control of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, and steps should be taken towards their maintenance.
It observed that under Section 80 (1) of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959, if the artistic appearance or the religious atmosphere of institutions was marred or was likely to be marred by an action of the lessee, licensee or mortgagee with possession, then notice towards termination of lease, licence or mortgage could be made.
The commercial establishments within temples not only affected the pilgrims but also the architectural values and sentiments attached to the temple.
The ancient temples were of great value to our culture and heritage, and it was the duty of the State to maintain the religious atmosphere in them, the court said.
Appeal against eviction
The court was hearing petitions filed by the shopkeepers of the Dhandayuthapani Temple in Palani against the eviction notice served on them by the Executive Officer of the temple.
The court dismissed the petitions.