Tamil Nadu makes Temple land grabbing a non-bailable offence

The Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a Bill on September 13, 2021 that made the encroachment of properties of religious institutions a cognisable and non-bailable offence.

Key Points

  • The Bill that seeks to amend the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959.
  • Bill was passed unanimously empowering anyone, who is having interest in the affairs of religious institution matters, to file a complaint against encroachers and temple land encroachment.
  • Bill will amend the section 79-B of the Act of 1959.
  • The Tamil Nadu government recently launched a massive drive to retrieve temple lands, encroached in the state.

What were the provisions earlier?

Till the bill was passed, only the Commissioner of the Hindu religious and charitable endowments department were empowered to file complaint against encroachment of temple land.

Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959

As per sub section (3) of Section 79-B of the Act, no court can take cognisance of the offence of unlawful possession for any property that belongs to a charitable or religious institution or endowment except when the complaint is filed in writing from the Commissioner.

Why this bill was passed?

The bill was passed in light of increasing instances of encroachments of properties belonging to religious institutions. This offence is serious in nature. Thus, the government considered that criminal complaint may be filed by any person who are interested in the affairs of the religious institution.

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