Mr. Rajagopalan also told the court that temple funds had been used for purchasing computers for HR&CE officials and painting their offices. He said now there was also a proposal by the State government to start a television channel using temple funds
PIL filed in Madras High Court accusing HR&CE Minister, Commissioner of using cars purchased using temple funds
Mohamed Imranullah S.
CHENNAI 02 AUGUST 2020 00:24 IST
UPDATED: 02 AUGUST 2020 00:24 IST
Litigant trust claims that even fuel expenses are met by the temples
A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court accusing the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Minister as well as the Commissioner of using cars purchased from the funds of the Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore and the Kamakshiamman temple at Mangadu respectively.
Justices M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha have ordered notices to the State government as well as the HR&CE Commissioner on the PIL petition filed by the Indic Collective Trust, represented by its president T.R. Ramesh. The petitioner’s counsel Niranjan Rajagopalan said temple money was being used even for fuel expenses.
The judges directed the Registry to list the case along with another PIL petition filed by Rangarajan Narasimhan of Srirangam against a Government Order to collect ₹10 crore of surplus funds from 20 rich temples and use it to renovate 10,000 village temples. In that case, the court had passed an interim order restraining any such expenditure.
In an affidavit filed in support of his case, Mr. Ramesh said a combined reading of Articles 25,26,27 of the Constitution would make it clear that the State could not appropriate funds belonging to temples and other religious institutions. Hence, the trust had challenged the validity of many provisions of the HR&CE Act before the Supreme Court.
Even as those cases were pending in the apex court, the HR&CE Department had been continuing to transfer temple funds without following the provisions of its own Act, the trust alleged. It claimed that funds were being diverted at the ipse dixit of the department though the law prescribes elaborate procedures such as calling for public objections.
Further stating that the HR&CE had failed to appoint trustees for around 19,000 temples in the State since 2011, the litigant trust said they were being managed by the department employees appointed as fit Persons. It insisted that the funds of such temples should be used for their essential maintenance purposes alone and not transferred at all.
Mr. Rajagopalan also told the court that temple funds had been used for purchasing computers for HR&CE officials and painting their offices. He said now there was also a proposal by the State government to start a television channel using temple funds and that the trust would want to reserve its right to challenge the decision at an appropriate time.