'Temple Lands Shall Always Remain With Temples; Public Purpose Theory Shall Not Be Invoked Over Temple Lands' : Madras High Court
The Madras High Court has given a set of 75 orders to the State of Tamil Nadu to guarantee that antique temples and ancient monoliths in the state are properly preserved, emphasising the importance of preserving cultural heritage. ...the custodians of grand and antique temples and ancient monuments are unconcerned, and the conservation of our valuable heritage is deteriorating not due to any natural calamity or catastrophe, but due to irresponsible administration and maintenance under the guise of renovation," wrote a division bench comprising Justices R Mahadevan and PD Audikesavalu in a 224-page judgement. The Court chastised the HR&CE and Archeology departments for not doing enough to maintain old temples and idols.
It is shocking to see that the HR&CE department, despite receiving all of its revenue from big temples, has been unable to maintain historical temples and secure the Idols, which have antique value in the market due to their age. UNESCO has designated some temples in the state as world historic monuments. Many UNESCO-listed temples built at least 2000 years ago or much earlier are in ruins. Neither the Archaeology Department nor the Human Resources and Community Engagement Department have expressed an interest in locating and protecting them. Temple lands shall always remain with temples, according to the Court, and the State Government or the HR&CE Department should not alienate or give away such properties against the wishes of the donors. The court ordered that the state form a 17-member heritage commission within two months, and that no structural changes or repairs to any monument, temple, idol, sculpture, or murais notified under the Central Act or the State Act should be made without the commission's approval.