Raising rent for Kanyakumari beach shops hits HC roadblock
MADURAI: The Madurai bench of the Madras high court has provided a reprieve to a group of licencees who run shops in the Kanyakumari beach area, setting aside a batch of 17 appeals filed against the orders of its single judge on July 2 last year directing them to pay a rent of Rs 5 per square feet daily for a shop measuring 40 square feet.
The licencees will not have to pay Rs 2 per square feet to the authority of Sri Bhagavathi Amman temple, Kanyakumari, which has rented out the shops to them till the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) commissioner considers their representations with regard to renewal of licences.
The appellants’ licence period for the shops expired on June 30, 2015. They made representations before the joint commissioner of HR&CE in Kanyakumari district for renewal of licences from July 1 to June 30, 2018 by enhancing the rent by 15%. As they were not disposed of in time, they filed cases before the high court bench seeking a direction to the HR&CE to consider their representations. They also sought injunction restraining the authority from evicting them from the shops.
The single judge accordingly granted it, but with a condition that they would pay Rs 5 per square feet for the occupation of the shops. Besides, they should not put up any permanent construction.
Assailing the correctness of the orders, they preferred appeals.
When they were taken up for hearing by the division bench of justices S Manikumar and S S Sundar, it was brought to the notice of the court by the appellants’ side that there were other shop owners in close proximity paying only 0.50 paise per square feet daily and the condition of payment of Rs 5 per square feet daily would put the appellants in great hardship.
The temple’s side said fixation of rent depended upon the place of location of the shop, though it is within the same temple property. It said that as per the Religious Institutions (Lease of Immovable Property) Rules, 1963, framed under the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959, it was the commissioner of HR&CE who should decide the fixation of rent.
In the meanwhile, the appellants’ side said that they were ready to pay Rs 2 per square feet. After hearing both sides, the division bench disposed of their cases with directions to both the HR&CE and the appellants.