Tamil Nadu declares encroachment of temple land as cognizable, non-bailable offence

The bill seeking the amendment of the Tamil Nadu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959, has been passed by the Tamil Nadu assembly. The amendment makes the encroachment of properties belonging to religious institutions a cognizable and non-bailable offence.

Created On: Sep 15, 2021 15:09 ISTModified On: Sep 15, 2021 15:09 IST

The Tamil Nadu Assembly on September 13, 2021, passed a bill that makes the encroachment of properties belonging to religious institutions a cognizable and non-bailable offence.

The bill seeking the amendment of the Tamil Nadu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 was tabled in the assembly on September 13 and was passed unanimously.

There are about 5 lakh acres of the properties that belong to over 40,000 religious institutions that are under the control of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department of the Tamil Nadu Government.

The Government of Tamil Nadu has launched a massive drive to retrieve the temple lands that have been encroached in various areas of the State.

Tamil Nadu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959

As per the sub-section (3) of Section 79-B of the Tamil Nadu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959, no court will take cognizance of an offence of the unlawful possession of any property that belongs to a charitable or religious institution or the endowment except on the complaint in writing from the Commissioner.

Till now, only the commissioner of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department was eligible to file a complaint against the encroachment of the temple land in the state.

What will change with amendment?

The bill seeking amendment to the Tamil Nadu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959, which was passed by Tamil Nadu Assembly will empower anyone who is having an interest in the affairs of the religious institution matters to file a complaint against the encroachers and the temple land encroachment.

Why Tamil Nadu has introduced the bill?

PK Sekarbabu, the Minister of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, who also tabled the latest bill, said that the encroachment of the properties that belong to religious institutions is ‘serious in nature.'

He added that it has been brought to the notice of the State Government that the encroachment of the properties belonging to the religious institutions are on the increase, hence, it has been considered that the criminal complaint may be lodged by anyone having an interest in the religious institution affairs against the encroachers.

Tamil Nadu state government has, therefore, decided to make the above-mentioned offence cognizable and non-bailable and to amend section 79-B of the Act.

Tamil Nadu adopts bill to reduce term of office of members of district committee

Tamil Nadu Government also adopted another bill that sought to reduce the term of office of the members of the district committee, under Section 7-A of the Act, from 3 to 2 years.

As several individuals have been interested in religious activities, their participation in the district committees will ensure that proper and qualified people are selected for appointment as trustees of the religious institutions.

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