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Tamil Nadu govt’s HR&CE dept has taken over 38,000 Hindu temples, SC seeks response over Indic Collective’s plea

The petition which was filed by the 'Indic Collective Trust,' urged the Supreme Court to overturn a Madras High Court decision that had dismissed the case earlier.

The Supreme Court on Thursday demanded the Government of Tamil Nadu’s statement to a petition alleging that the administration indirectly had taken over the operation of over 38000 temples in the state of Tamil Nadu by recruiting executive officials but without nominating temple trustees. According to the petition, the act has resulted in the mishandling of the finances of large temples. A bench consisting of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha heard the case on December 13 seeking a response from the state government.

The petition which was filed by the ‘Indic Collective Trust,’ urged the Supreme Court to overturn a Madras High Court decision that had dismissed the case earlier. The petition stated that while the Conditions for Appointment of Executive Officers Rules, 2015 limit Executive Officer appointments to a maximum of five years, the Executive Officers recruited by the state authorities were nominated indefinitely with no conditions specified in their appointment orders.

The plea contended that the state had violated the Articles 25, 26 and 29 of the Constitution of India by appointing Executive Officers in the temples of Tamil Nadu. While listing various examples of mismanagement of temples by EOs, the Petitioner maintained that decisions related to projects and activities costing crores of rupees are left to be taken with such EOs, causing tremendous damage to the interests of the Deity and Temple Devotees.

‘It is also a matter of concern that the Respondents have placed EOs in several temples with abysmally low income i.e., where chances of mismanagement are remote. This would show that the Respondents have been indiscriminately taking control of several temples without any valid reason and in complete violation of the law,” the petition read.

Senior Advocate CS Vaidyanathan, counsel for the petitioner, asserted that the EOs diverted temple cash generated by religious donations from worshipers for their wages and other non-religious uses. He further added that there had been no known incident in the preceding 70 years where the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department has returned a temple to the trustee or the community involved after taking over temple administration.

It is reported that there are 36,627 temples, 57 temples affiliated with the Holy Mutts, and 17 temples affiliated with Jains. 88.22% of these temples are under the authority of the HR&CE Department and have an annual income of less than Rs. 10,000.

The petition asked that the State of Tamil Nadu recognize all Executive Officers who are serving without legitimate appointment orders, who were nominated without valid reasons, or who were hired under Sections 43-A or 45 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959, prior to the implementation of the Conditions for Appointment of Executive Officers Rules, 2015.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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