HC decides ownership of temple property using Chola inscriptions: Judge deems patta and partition deed insufficient proof of ownership

[2/27, 07:33] Sekarreporter 1: HC decides ownership of temple property using Chola inscriptions: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-decides-ownership-of-temple-property-using-chola-inscriptions/article30926698.ece
[2/27, 07:33] Sekarreporter 1: Judge deems patta and partition deed insufficient proof of ownership
The Madras High Court has come to the rescue of Adheepureeswarar temple at Keezhakasakudi village in Karaikkal taluk of Puducherry in claiming title over huge tracts of immovable properties situated around it. It relied solely upon epigraphs on the walls of the temple, dating back to 1174 and 1227 CE, to prove that the valuable lands had actually been donated to it by the then Chola kings.
Justice S.M. Subramaniam dismissed an appeal suit filed by Balkis Natchiar and her family members who claimed title over the properties on the basis of a partition deed reportedly executed between their ancestors during the French rule of Puducherry in 1961 and a patta issued by the revenue officials in recent years.
[2/27, 07:33] Sekarreporter 1: ‘Not sufficient’
The judge said, “Neither the partition deed nor the patta would be sufficient to prove title.”
“The contention of the learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants that the Notaire in French government used to verify the title cannot be taken as a conclusive evidence so as to grant the relief of declaration of title. This court cannot come to the conclusion that the Notaire would have done title verification and only thereafter, signed the partition. Such a presumption is inadmissible in law,” the judge said.
Burden of proof
He also observed that the appellants could not claim title over the property by simply contending that the temple was also not in possession of any document to prove its title. “The plaintiff, who instituted the suit for declaration, is expected to prove his case at the first instance. Non production of the title documents by the temple would not be a ground for the appellant plaintiff to seek for the relief of declaration of title,” he noted.
Nevertheless, pointing out that the inscriptions found on the temple walls had been documented by the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI), the judge said: “When the inscriptions are very much available and such inscriptions are recorded in South Indian Inscriptions, Volume VII, maintained by Director General, ASI, and there is a clear version regarding the gifting of the property in favour of the temple by the Dynasty of Raja Raja Cholan.
“Thus, this court has no hesitation in arriving a conclusion that the temple has established their title with reference to the suit schedule property and the appellants / plaintiffs have not placed any record to establish their title. There appears to be many encroachments of the temple lands. The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department is duty bound to prevent all such encroachments by following due procedures,” he said.

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