Disposed off with title deeds for over Rs.92 m
Temple received only a paltry Rs.730,000
Agreement signed without mentioning the “status” of land
Traditional Rajakariya lands belonging to the Temple of the Tooth Relic have been sold for millions through dubious means, Police investigations reveal.
Rajakariya, is a traditional system of land tenure in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) until the early 19th century in which land was granted in exchange for services rendered. The traditional Rajakariya lands in Peradeniya, ‘Udawatte’ and ‘Malnaidage Chena’ with a total extent of 6 acres, have been sold with title deeds for Rs 9,287,0000 (Rs 92mn).
According to the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance, traditional Rajakariya lands can be sold, but at the time of sale, it has to be mentioned that they are Rajakariya lands, and that they come under the governance of the Temple of the Tooth.
Documents obtained by the Police have shown that when these lands were sold, the agreement was allegedly signed by Diyawadana Nilame Nilanga Dela Bandara but the deeds did not state they were Rajakariya lands.
Though the sale had brought in an income of Rs 92 million the Temple had received only an insignificant sum of Rs.730,000 into its own coffers.
According to the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance, Section 27, you can transfer land belonging to the authority but soon after the land is transferred to a third party, he has to inform of the change in ownership to the Commissioner of Buddhist Affairs. But investigations show that none of the buyers have informed the Commissioner of the transaction, the main reason being that the title deeds prepared for the lands did not mention that they were Rajakariya lands belonging to the Temple.
According to evidence obtained by the Police, the buyers were not made aware that these were Rajakariya lands or that Rs.730,000 of the sale had been deposited with the Temple for its activities.
The crux of the matter was that both these lands had been blocked and resold and the money earned through such fraudulent means were hidden, with a small amount deposited with the Temple.
The scam is of a serious nature as these traditional lands were bestowed under the guardianship of the temple in perpetuity.
Furthermore, the corrupt deal also sought to conceal the true market value of the lands in the sale documents.
The above case is being heard in the Kandy Magistrate’s Court under Case No B 34983/2015, filed on May 29, 2015.