Telangana High Court on Saturday questioned the hasty manner in which the state government had ordered probe into encroachment of endowment lands at Devarayamjal in Medchal-Malkajgiri district.
The court wanted to know why the government suddenly decided to probe when the problem was there for a long time. It remarked why there was swift response to this issue at a time when there is hardly any response to deaths occurring due to the Covid.
The high court also questioned the government’s move of forming a committee with four IAS officials to probe the land encroachments.
The court was hearing petitions challenging the Government Order (GO) constituting the committee.
The Advocate General submitted to the court that the committee has been constituted only for preliminary probe and after receipt of its report action will be initiated as per law.
The AG also informed the court that at this stage there will be no action like demolition.
The high court observed even for preliminary probe, notices have to be issued. It asked the committee to issue notices to those facing the allegations.
The court also made it clear that those facing the allegations should appear before the committee. It said the committee should submit its report after recording their statements.
The court directed that the lands of the petitioners should not be interfered with. It asked the endowments department to file a counter affidavit with all the details.
The state government on May 3 appointed a Committee of Officers headed by Panchayat Raj and Rural Development commissioner M Raghunandan Rao to probe into the alleged encroachment of endowment lands belonging to Sri Seetha Rama Swamy temple at Devaryamjal village.
Other members of the Committee of Officers are Nalgonda district Collector Prashanth Jeevan Patil, Mancherial district Collector Bharathi Holikeri and Medchal Malkajgiri district collector Swetha Mohanty.
There are allegations that former Minister Eatala Rajender and other individuals have occupied a large portion of over 1,521 acres belonging to the temple worth more than Rs 1,000 crore.
The committee was constituted soon after Rajender was dropped from the state cabinet on allegations of encroaching farmers’ lands in Medak district.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had on April 30 ordered the probe into allegations of encroachment of farmers’ lands. Preliminary investigation by Medak district collector found that 66 acres of land was encroached for the minister’s poultry farm.
Rajender, however, denied the allegations and called the probe a witch-hunt.