INDORE BENCH of the Madhya Pradesh High Court comprising Justice S K Kulshreshtha and Justice S K Seth has issued a notice to the Shajapur district collector in connection with a writ appeal filed by a former temple priest Mahant Uddhavdas Tyagi who wants his gun licence to be restored.
Tyagi was a priest at the Dehri Ghat Radha Krishna temple at Bapcha village in Kala Pipal tehsil of Shajapur district. The temple belongs to the government and Shajapur district collector is its administrator.
The temple’s property includes 46 acres (18.695 hectares) of irrigated agricultural land valued at Rs 46.73 lakh according to existing guideline. Its market value is estimated to be worth Rs 80 lakh. Besides, a country revolver and 12 bore gun also belongs to the temple.
Shajapur district collector Shivanand Dube told Hindustan Times that Tyagi was removed as temple priest in 1997 after several complaints were received against him. Rajendra Das Bairagi was appointed in his place.
Since Tyagi was unwilling to give up the post and land, which he claimed to be his ancestral property, he attempted to take possession of the farmland with the help of musclemen.
Consequently, a case was registered against him under Sections 107, 116 of Cr PC in 1999. He had also issued life threats to Bairagi and Laxminarayan Patel & Purushottam Khati from the nearby village of Mohammedpur Michai because they supported the new priest.
In 2002, the district magistrate suspended Tyagi’s gun licence on the ground that he could misuse the weapons. Tyagi appealed against this order in the divisional commissioner’s court but the latter upheld the DM’s order.
In 2005, he filed a petition in Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court and lost. He then moved the Supreme Court. The apex court reverted the case to the High Court saying that a writ appeal should be filed before the division bench.
The temple land was auctioned every year till 1991 for Rs 52,000. The sum received was deposited in the temple’s bank account and was used for its maintenance and organising special prayers on festivals. The auction was stopped when the land became embroiled in legal dispute.
Senior advocate Ashok Garg, who appeared on behalf of Tyagi, said the Shajapur civil court has decreed that the move to introduce the district collector as temple administrator in revenue records was not correct.
He said the Shajapur district administration had been recovering land revenue from the temple land though the government never recovers revenue from its own land.