Grabbing temple land is a cognisable offence now

There are about five lakh acres of properties belonging to over 40,000 religious institutions, under HR&CE Department

The Assembly on Monday passed a Bill to make the encroachment of properties belonging to religious institutions a cognisable and non-bailable offence, amending the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959.

There are about five lakh acres of properties belonging to over 40,000 religious institutions, under the control of the HR&CE Department.

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

“It is brought to the notice of the government that encroachments of properties belonging to religious institutions are on the increase… The said offence is serious in nature. Hence, it is considered that criminal complaints may be lodged by any person having interest in the affairs of the religious institution against the encroachers,” the Bill introduced by HR&CE Minister P.K. Sekarbabu said.

Another Bill adopted by the House sought to reduce the term of office of the members of the district committee, under Section 7-A of the Act, from three to two years.

It was necessary to give opportunities to senior citizens, women and other aspirants who have the necessary aptitude, dedication and competence and to strengthen and provide impetus to the administration of religious institutions and in the appointment of trustees.

As several persons were interested in religious activities, their participation in district committees may ensure the selection of proper and qualified persons for appointment as trustees of the religious institutions. Hence, it was considered to provide opportunities to more scholars, philanthropists, religious persons, senior citizens and women in the proces of preparation of a panel of names for the appointment of non-hereditary trustees in religious institutions, it said.

The Speaker adjourned the House sine die.

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