Misuse Of Temple Funds In Tamil Nadu: Indic Collective Trust Petitions Madras High Court Against HR&CE Minister, Commissioner

by M R Subramani - Aug 3, 2020 02:38 PM +05:30 IST
Misuse Of Temple Funds In Tamil Nadu: Indic Collective Trust Petitions Madras High Court Against HR&CE Minister, CommissionerThe Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore, Tamil Nadu. (@seyyedreza/Twitter)
  • Funds belonging to Mylapore Kapaleeswarar and Mangadu Kamakshiamman temples reportedly used for purchasing cars for HR&CE brass.

The Indic Collective Trust has filed a petition in the Madras High Court against the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Minister and HR&CE Commissioner for using cars purchased from the funds of the famous Mylapore Kapaleeswarar and Mangadu Kamakshiamman Temple, respectively.

In a public interest petition, the trust, represented by its president T R Ramesh, accused both of utilising the temple’s funds even for fuel expenses.

Taking up the petition for hearing, Justices M M Sundresh and R Hemalatha ordered notice to the State government and the HR&CE Commissioner.

The petition will be tagged along with another case filed by a Srirangam resident, Rangarajan Narasimhan, who has accused the State government of ordering the collection of Rs 10 crore surplus funds from 20 rich temples in the State.

The funds are to be used for renovating 10,000 village temples. The High Court has already stayed the order.

Ramesh, who has been taking up causes of Tamil Nadu temples, argued that under the Constitution, the State cannot appropriate temple and other religious institution funds.

Stating that the trust has moved the Supreme Court against many provisions of the HR&CE Act in the State, he said the Tamil Nadu government was not following procedures in utilising temple funds.

The funds were being utilised without seeking public opinion or objections as mandated by the HR&CE Act, the Indic Trust said, and pointed out that trustees for nearly 19,000 temples were yet to be appointed.

This resulted in the department employees managing the trusts against the law, he contended.

Ramesh also accused the State government of using temple funds to buy computers for HR&CE officials and refurbishing offices.

The petition come within a couple of months after the Madras High Court found untenable the State government’s decision to ask temples to donate to the State Chief Minister’s Covid-19 fund.

The State government has been misusing temple funds, the latest being utilising them for executing public infrastructure funds in violation of the HR&CE Act.

The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government has also attempted regularising encroachments of temple lands through a government order on 30 August last year.

The State government said it wanted to give these lands to poor families.

However, the order was stayed by the Madras High Court after the Temple Worshippers Society and others objected to it through a petition.

The State government is now trying to get the stay vacated saying the encroached lands were “unwanted lands”.

The case is still pending before the Madras High Court.

Devotees and worshippers in Tamil Nadu are against the State government administering temples, as it has led to irregularities and loss of temple properties, including invaluable idols.

A case filed in the Supreme Court by the late Dayanand Saraswati to end government administration of temples in 2012 is pending before the Supreme Court.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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