A division bench of Justice R Mahadevan and Justice J Sathya Narayana Prasad observed that the court has time and again reiterated that land belonging to temples is to be used only for religious purposes.
The HR and CE department should take all effective measures to safeguard temples and their properties from encroachment / unauthorized occupation.
The court made the observations while disposing of a petition filed before the Madurai bench by S P Narayanan.
The petitioner also sought to retrieve the land and permit the public and devotees who visit the temple during festival times, to use it for resting and parking.
Counsel for the temple’s executive officer submitted that the officer had written to revenue officials to prevent third parties from using temple land as burial ground, and allocate an alternate place for it for the people of Subramaniyapuram. Though the revenue officials said that appropriate actions would be taken, nothing materialised.
The judges observed that such a callous attitude on the part of the respondent authorities cannot be countenanced by this court.
Considering the seriousness involved, the judges directed the authorities to consider and pass orders on the representation made by the petitioner in the light of the communication sent by the executive officer of the temple.
It is a trite law that the right to dignity is not restricted to human life alone, but is available even after death. The Supreme Court has laid down that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution also includes the right to die with dignity. Therefore, the right to accord a decent burial or cremation to the dead body of a person should be taken to be part of the right to such human dignity……,” observed the judges while directing the authorities to consider allocating an alternative site for burial of dead bodies.