Justice M Duraiswamy gave the ruling while allowing a Civil Revision Petition by the administrations of two temples, including Srirangam Ranganathaswamy shrine, challenging the permission granted by a district court in April 2009 to the descendant of a trustee of a property endowed in 1887, to sell 46 cents of land through auction.
Observing that the court had exceeded its jurisdiction by granting permission for the sale of land, the judge also criticised the trustee for attempting to "overreach the deities and the authorities" under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act while managing the properties dedicated for the purposes of the temple.
"It is the duty of the courts to protect and safeguard the properties of religious and Charitable Endowment from wrongful claims and misappropriation", he said cancelling the lower court’s order as well as the sale.
The judge directed the trustee to refund the sale amount received from the lessee. The matter related to an immovable property purchased with Rs 2,100 given from the estate of one Thiruvengdam Chettiar in 1887 for performing pujas in the Srirangam temple and Big Bazaar temple in Tiruchirappalli. The property was managed by four trustees then and their descendants later.

M Pandian, the sole active trustee at present, had approached the district court to seeking permission to sell 46 cents for Rs 23 lakh, claiming the lease income from the property was not sufficient to perform the religious obligations.

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