Madras HC quashes HR&CE notice to amusement park over encroachment allegations – The News Minute

Chennai News

The court had, in 2021, observed that the temple and the Revenue Department can clarify the issue of alleged encroachment by Queensland park between themselves.

The Madras High Court, on Wednesday, June 15, has set aside a notice issued by the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department, which sought to remove the Queensland Amusement Park in Kanchipuram district, as it allegedly lies on encroached land. The amusement park is established on a sprawling area of 21.06 acres in Pappanchatram village in Kanchipuram district. Justice VM Velumani granted the relief to the amusement park, while allowing a batch of three writ petitions from S Nalini Selvaraj (the wife of Queensland Amusement Park’s owner) and two others challenging the notice dated October 8, 2021 of the Joint Commissioner, HR&CE Department at Kanchipuram.

While quashing the case, the judge traced the history of the land measuring 177 acres from 1884. He also pointed out the subsequent Land Ceiling Act, when the land was donated to two temples, and several court proceedings over the ownership of the land. The judge said that once a division bench of this court had set aside an order, which directed the petitioners to pay the amount as demanded by Sri Kasi Viswanathar and Sri Venugopaleeswarar temple at Pazhanjur, the temple cannot be termed as a landlord and is not entitled to initiate proceedings under Section 78 of the HR & CE Act. The section deals with the Assistant Commissioner’s jurisdiction to remove encroachment and their eviction.

Further, the court by an order passed in October 2021 had observed that the Revenue Department and the temple can sort out the tussle amongst themselves. They had filed petitions before the District Collector for the issue of patta. The Collector, after recording the statement of the temple and others, who were in possession of the land, rejected the request of the temple. It had filed an appeal to the Commissioner of the Land Administration and the same was pending.

Meanwhile, the first bench of the High Court, while disposing of a PIL petition in October, 2021 had held that the rights pertaining to the land in question will be governed as a whole by the result of the appeals pending before the Land Administration Commissioner.

The HR&CE Department also, in the notes of submission, admitted that the issue between the Revenue Department and the temple will be governed by the appeal pending before the Commissioner. The proposal of the petitioners offering alternate land in lieu of land in question is under consideration by the State government. The government officials had already inspected the alternate land offered by the petitioners. The District Collector had also held that the lease granted by the temple in respect of the government land was erroneous.

“Considering the above materials in its entirety, especially the order of the first bench of this Court dated October 29, 2021 that the rights pertaining to the land in question will be governed by the result of appeal, which is still pending before the Commissioner of Land Administration, this Court is of the view that the petitioners are entitled to the relief sought for in the Writ Petitions,” the judge said and quashed the notice.