JSK to all patriots. Please support Dr. S. Swamy ji in every possible way. He already knows what to do. Give him power and he will get rid of many evils (including the one suggested by Bhagwat ji). Regards.
1. Most of the endowment trusts esp. in Southern States have been diverting the temple funds for meeting Govt. expenses like payment of salaries/pensions (Kerala State), for building Churches and conversions activities (Andhra under Samuel Reddy as CM) and for building Mosques and Madrassa-s in Karnataka (esp. under CM Krishna as CM) and this diversion of temple funds have been going on since decades.
2. Even the make shift temple of Ram in the Ayodhya site, the Chadav-s or temple income is taken away by the State through the Divl.Commissioner and there were reports that funds to run the daily poojas and salaries of priest were not forthcoming from the UP Govt.
3. In J&K, Vaishnoidevi and Amarnath temples rake in millions every season from devotees from different parts pof India esp. Gujarat, and as stated by former Cn Farooq Abdullah, all the “Chadav-s” are taken by Govt. for its expenses. The State Govt. does not even maintaing proper roads to reach these temples nor toilets and other facilities fro the pilgrims.
4. When Nehru introduced the Hindu Religious endowments Act, the purpose was to monitor the incomes and ensure that teh collections are utilised for the temple only with an administrator as a member of the trust.
However, in course of time the State Govt. found that temples were Kamadhenu-s giving milk in abundant quatities without feeding her and started misusing the funds for purposes other than Hindu temples or institutions the bazen act by the Chiefe Ministers diverting the funds for appeasement of Muslims and Christians.
5. There has been Court directives against this practice but as usual the Govts. do not follow the judgements. Why not someone file a contempt petition in the Courts against the Govt.?
SC curbs State bid to control temples
Pratap Patnaik, New Delhi: Deccan Herald, Aug 14, 2009
The Supreme Court on Friday directed that the Karnataka government may not take over the management of any temple in the State under a law enacted in 1997.
A Bench headed by Justice R V Raveendran stayed Section 25 of the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997, that permitted the State Government to take over the management of temples. “Section 25 of the Act is stayed,” the Bench said after the State Government failed to defend itself with reasoned arguments.
Appearing for Udupi and Dakshina Kannada Temples Management Association, senior advocate K K Venugopal and advocate Sharan Thakur sought direction restraining the State Government from taking over the management of temples. State Government advocate Sanjay Hegde said the Supreme Court had earlier stayed the Karnataka High Court ruling.
“If committees are constituted under the 1997 Act, the applicants will be put in irreparable injury and hardship,” said a petition filed by the Sahasra Lingeswar temple and others.
In September 2006, a Karnataka High Court Division Bench comprising Justices Gururajan and C R Kumaraswamy struck down the entire Act as unconstitutional. The Bench stated it was arbitrary and violative of Articles 14, 25 and 26 of the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court order on April 2, 2007, following a special leave petition (SLP) by the State Government.
The State Government’s argument was two-fold: protecting the livelihood of 70,000 priests and managing hundreds of temples and trusts.
These issues were at the centre of a controversy between the temples and the state government ever since the Act came into being.
The State Government had submitted that a high-powered committee headed by Justice M Rama Jois had been formed to look into the grievances of the priests and other office bearers of the temples.
The priests and temple trusts challenged the Act in the High Court, claiming it was discriminatory and not uniformly applicable to all religious institutions, including mutts.
The State Government had issued notices to over 200 temples in North Karnataka, including the Banashankari temple in Badami, Veerabhadreshwara temple at Godachi in Raibagh taluk of Belgaum district and the Hanuman temple in Haveri, informing them about the appointment of committees that would recommend taking over their management.
GOVT. CANNOT USE TEMPLE FUNDS FOR OTHER RELIGIONS
Government has no constitutional right to divide Hindu society arbitrarily and to compel Hindu temples to provide assistance to institutions of other religions- Judgment given by Honorable High Court (Source: Deccan Herald, September 9, 2006)
Deccan Herald, September 09, 2006
A division bench comprising Justice R Gururajan and Justice C R Kumaraswamy struck down the Act stating that the legislation violated Articles 14, 25 and 26 of the Constitution which provided for right to equality, freedom of conscience and freedom of profession, practice and propagation of religion and also the freedom to manage the religious affairs. The order will come into effect prospectively.
The Karnataka High Court on Friday struck down the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Act, 1997 as unconstitutional pointing out that its provisions amounted to “dividing Hindu religion.”
A division bench comprising Justice R Gururajan and Justice C R Kumaraswamy struck down the Act stating that the legislation violated Articles 14, 25 and 26 of the Constitution which provided for right to equality, freedom of conscience and freedom of profession, practice and propagation of religion and also the freedom to manage the religious affairs. The order will come into effect prospectively.
The bench also side aside an order of a single judge who had upheld the constitutional validity of the Act last year. Several trustees of the temples and archaks had challenged the order contending that the Act divided the Hindu community, besides denying the right guaranteed under the constitution to establish and manage religious institution.
The court, in its 176-page order, observed that keeping out Maths and denomination temples from the purview of the Act amounted to violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. “Religious denomination does not in any way stand on a different footing than other temples,” the court observed and said the state has to justify its action of exclusion of Maths in the Act, which were earlier included in local Acts.
The court said the Act defined Hindu as not to include Sikh, Jain and Buddist contrary to constitutional provisions. “Hindu religion is already divided by way of castes and sub-castes. Now the state wants to divide Hindus by excluding Jains, Sikhs in terms of a statute”, the court observed.
Regarding the provision in the Act, which makes it mandatory for a notified temple to contribute 5 per cent of its total annual income to the “Common Pool Fund”, regulated by the Endowment Commissioner, the court said there cannot be compulsion only for Hindu temples to provide assistance to institutions of other religions. “Devotees of Hindu temples provide money for temple purposes and it cannot be spent for non-Hindu causes,” the court observed. The court said the government could have a commission constituted for temple affairs and involve Hindu religious leaders, social reformers and other experts and thereafter proceed to pass a uniform law.
The government can also think of having different regulatory measures for temples, maths and Jain institutions depending on their religious beliefs within the provision of the Constitution. “We deem it proper to observe that the government would be doing a great service to Hindu society by eliminating all evil corrupt practices, if at all, prevailing in Hindu institutions. This would go a long way in Hindu temple reformation,” the court observed.
Leaving Maths and ‘denomination’ temples out of the purview of the Act is violation of Article 14 pertaining to right to equality Act definition that ‘Hindu’ does not to include Sikh, Jain and Buddist contrary to Constitutional provisions.
State cannot compel temples to provide assistance to institutions of other religions
Single judge order upholding the validity of the Act set aside
>>”There are 2,07,000 temples in Karnataka & the total income of these temples are Rs 72 crores per year. Only Rs. 6 crore is spent by government for temples, 50 crores for the madrasas and 10 crores for the churches, 6 crore for other activities. In a period of 5 years, 50,000 temples will be closed for the want of funds in just Karnataka alone.” -Sri Sri Ravishankar, 2005>>
NEW DELHI, December 18, 2012 SC notice to A.P. on petition challenging HR and CE Act J. VENKATESAN
The Supreme Court has issued notice to the States of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and the Union Territory of Puducherry on a writ petition filed by Sri Dayananda Saraswati Swamiji, Sri Paramatmananda Saraswati Swamiji and Sri Vishweswaranand Giriraj Maharaj, challenging the Hindu Religious and Endowments Acts of the respective governments.
A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra issued notice after hearing senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan and senior R. Venkataramani and counsel Bindu Nair and sought the response of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and the Union Territory of Puducherry governments.
The petitioners said they were aggrieved over the provisions of HR & CE Acts as they took away the internal autonomy of the religious institutions and denominations.
They said “even the conduct of religious rites and rituals are completely constricted and regulated by the Executive Officers and by the Trustees appointed by the Government, in violation of the rights guaranteed to the people who practise and profess the religion and of the religious denominations under Article 14,15 (1), 19(1)(g) 21, 25 and 26 of the Constitution.” “The proposed expenditures and budgets for conducting religious rituals have to be considered upfront by the authorities of the Department and the Government and only after meeting with their approvals can money be expended for such rituals. The temples are thus virtually treated as the personal fiefdom of political masters.
There is no rationale or justice for the government to discriminate and arbitrarily fetter and restrict the temples’ internal autonomy in management and administration, which cannot be dubbed as secular in character, more so when there is no aid or contribution or grant from the Government.”
They pointed out that the constitutional mandate of “hands-off” from the religious institutions was totally breached so far as the Hindu Temples and Charitable Institutions were concerned. If the Government can wield its power to appoint or remove the Trustees and compel them to obey all orders of the Government or its servants on pain of prosecution and dismissal, and in devious ways can remove the Trustees and replace them by its nominees and the denominations or communities have no lot or part in the choice of Trustees or voice in the management of the institution, it is plain that Articles 25 and 26 are rendered nugatory and of no real effect whatever for Hindus of this country.”
They sought a declaration that the offending provisions were unconstitutional.
“Laws take away autonomy of religious institutions”
Petitioners says provisions are unconstitutional
>>>Endowments Departments in different states take as much as 75 percent of Temple funds and use them at their will. No accountability, no transparency and no verification. They have the authority to suppress and subdue Hindus who question their authority. Many politicians who happened to be Hindus have become so selfish they can mortgage their culture and their country for fame, name, power and money. They can deny any thing and get away with it. Even the Courts cannot be effective. Secular government would not enforce any law that would ameliorate the Temples and the salaries for the Priests. It is shame and a disgrace on the human race itself, especially to Hindu community for it’s benign neglect.
Supreme Court and Priest Salaries
Most of the employees, who are classified as secular staff, of the Endowment Department are paid regular salaries. Unfortunately, majority of the priest who are classified as religious staff, are not paid commensurate with their responsibilities. Many of them are paid meagre salaries. They are not able to support their families. In some cases the salaries are not even paid on time. It is the duty of the government, Hindus and the society to treat the Priests happy and contented.
The case of salary issue to the priest went all the way to Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had directed the state government in 1997 to pay salaries to temple staff on par with those of the government employees. However even after 13 years of Supreme Court directive State government failed to take appropriate steps develop pay scales and pay the equitable salaries to the priests.
Sri Kamal Kumar Swami>>>
HR&CE: RogueDepartment of the Government of Tamil Nadu
T R Ramesh 27 Jul 2011
It is a great irony that a secular Government should deeply embroil itself in the administration and running of Hindu temples andinstitutions in the guise of supervising the secular aspects of temple administration. This grotesque policy of the Government to supervise religious institutions applies only to Hindu Religious institutions.
Viselike grip on Religious Institutions
By its own account the HR & CE Dept administers (or rather mal-administers):
- 36,425 temples
- 56 Mutts
- 47 temples belonging to Mutts
- 1721 Specific endowments and 189 Trusts
This has been possible due to Tamil Nadu being ruled continuously by atheists and unscrupulous persons, a corrupt bureaucracy, adebased High Court and above all, stark apathy, indifference and ignorance among Hindus. In recent times, the covert and overt designs of Christian missionaries and agencies have added to the plight of Hindu temples.
Around 1840, the then British Government started giving up administration of temples. They asked some of the prominent mutts in Tamil Nadu to look after some of the important temples and endowments.
The Heads of Mutts who were happy to takeover the administration of these temples so that they are run as they ought to be run, were careful enough to get written documents or “Muchalikas” from the British Government, which assured them that they would not take back the temples from the Mutts.
Thus some very important temples came under the complete control and ownership of these Mutts and the Mutts ran them ably and efficiently.
The primary purposes of worship and utilization of funds meant for the upkeep of temples and conduct of rituals were never lost sight of by the Heads of Mutts or officers. While a few temples were thus brilliantly administered by the Mutts, thousands of other temples in the then Madras Presidency were handed over to the respective trustees with the then Government playing little or no role in supervising them.
In 1925, the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1923 (Act I of 1925) was passed by the local Legislature with the object of providing for better governance and administration of certain religious endowments. The Act divided temples into what are known as Excepted and Non-excepted temples. Immediately after the Act came into force, its validity was challenged on the ground that the Act was not validly passed. For this reason, the legislature enacted the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1926, Act II of 1927 repealing Act I of 1925.
This Act was amended from time to time. It is unnecessary to refer to the changes introduced later. Suffice it to say that the Act was amended by 1946 by as many as ten Acts I of 1928, V of 1929, IV of1930, XI of 1931, XI of 1934, XII Of 1935, XX of 1938, XXII of 1939, V of 1944 and X of 1946. A radical change was introduced, however, by Act XII of 1935. The Government was not satisfied with the powers of the Board then existing and they clothed the Board with an important and drastic power by introducing a new Chapter, Ch. VI-A, by which jurisdiction was given to the Board to notify a temple for reasons to be given by it.
Thus, it can be seen that even in the pre-independence era, the Board had systematically consolidated its powers to take over and administer temples. Of course, this despicable intervention by Government applied only to Hindu Institutions.
Hindu Religious Endowments Board
Shri Krupananda Vaariar had undertaken to build the Vadalur Ramalinga Swami’s Sathya Gnana Sabha in the 1940s and had gone around Tamil Nadu collecting funds from devotees and spending such collection with great care. The Hindu Religious Board, of which one Chinnaiah Pillai was president, intervened in the selfless work of Shri Vaariar and tried his best to scuttle it. Thanks to the just intervention of the then Chief Minister of Madras State, Omandur Ramaswamy Reddiar, his evil designs fell flat.
Omandur Reddiar also intervened to stop the unjust takeover of Chidambaram Sabhanayagar Temple in 1947. But Chinnaiah Pillai and his cronies in the HRE Board were not to give up.
The 1951 Act
Notwithstanding the clear directions of the Madras Government in 1947 to drop notification proceedings and the clear direction of the Hon’ble Madras High Court in 1939 that the Board cannot undertake notification process on frivolous grounds, the Board started the notification process of the Chidambaram Shri Sabhanayagar Temple in 1950 and the then Madras Government issued a Government Order (G.O.) Ms. 894, Rural Welfare Dept. dated 28-8-1951 published in the Fort St. George Gazette on 4-9-1951.
Meanwhile, India after gaining independence from British rule had become a Republic on 26 January 1950, with its Constitution guaranteeing certain fundamental rights to its citizens. Special religious and administrative rights were guaranteed to Religious Denominations or sections thereof.
The Board also tried to take over the famous Shri Guruvayurappan Temple in Guruvayur, Udupi Shri Krishna Temple under the management of Shri Shirur Mutt of Udupi and Shri Venkataramana Temple belonging to the sect of Gowd Saraswath Brahmins in Mulkipetta of South Kanara district.
All the above religious institutions challenged the takeover by the HRE Board. In the meantime, a new Hindu Religious Act was passed by the Madras Government, known as the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951. The Board was now replaced by the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department, headed by a Commissioner who was given vast powers under the Act.
The Government facing stiff opposition in the Kerala region against its order on Guruvayur temple, withdrew the order. Shri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of the Shirur Mutt, the Podu Dikshitars of Shri Sabhanayagar Temple and Devaraja Shenoy representing the community of Gowd Saraswat Brahmins in Mulkipetta filed Civil Miscellaneous and Writ petitions challenging the Government Orders.
On 13 December 1951, a Division Bench of Hon’ble Madras High Court presided by the Learned Judges Justice Satyanarayana Rao and Justice Rajagopalan passed two landmark judgments.
- 1952 I MLJ 481 – Devaraja Shenoy vs. State of Madras – quashing the Government order to takeover the administration of the Shri Venkataramana Temple in Mulkipetta.
- 1952 I MLJ 557 – Shri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar of Shri Shirur Mutt vs. State of Madras quashing the Government order to takeover the administration of Shri Udupi Krishna Temple and Shri Sabhanayagar Temple in Chidambaram.
In the Shirur Mutt Case, many provisions of the new HR& CE Act of 1951 were held ultra vires of the Constitution. The Division Bench clearly defined a Religious Denomination, their rights – religious and administrative. It also explained how these rights were intermingled and could not be separated in the case of a Mathathipathi and since it was the same with the Podu Dikshitars of Chidambaram Temple, it equated them to Mathathipathis.
Equally important were the findings of the Division Bench that the attempt of the Board and the Commissioner HR & CE to takeover the temples were not only unconstitutional but bad on merits.
Appeals to Supreme Court
The Government of Madras filed three appeals against these two landmark verdicts. On 9 February 1954, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dismissed the civil appeal 39/1953 after recording the statement of the Advocate General of the Madras Government that the G.O. passed to takeover the Chidambaram Shri Sabhanayagar Temple would be withdrawn. The Government sought no leave and none was granted.
Similarly the Government’s Civil Appeal no.15/1953 filed against the verdict of Hon’ble Madras Court in the Shri Venkataramana Temple Mulkipetta was also dismissed after the Government offered to withdraw the G.O. appointing the Executive Officer.
The Government of Madras contested only the Civil Appeal 38 of 1953, pertaining to the Shirur Mutt Case and even in that appeal did not contest on merits. The Advocate General argued only on constitutional grounds. This was clearly recorded in the Supreme Court judgment.
Thus, it is amply clear that the HR & CEDepartment and the Government never had any case right from the beginning on merits, and they simply wanted to takeover the administration of large and famous temples to pave way for the takeover of all other temples in the Presidency.
The 1954 Supreme Court judgment in the Shirur Mutt Case
The judgment of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the appeal related to the Shirur Mutt (AIR 1954 SC 282) and the judgment by another Constitution Bench in the Venkataramana Devaru vs. State of Mysore (1958 SCR 895) are landmark judgments that Courts in India are expected to follow regarding Article 26 of the Indian Constitution and Denomination rights.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court agreed with the Hon’ble Madras High Court that many of the sections of the 1951 HR & CE Act were ultra vires the Constitution. It also clearly observed that while the legislature could seek to regulate the administration, it must always leave the administration to the denomination. It struck down the sections of the 1951 Act which sought to appoint Executive Officers to religious institutions as arbitrary andultra vires the Constitution. The Advocate General of Madras agreed with the Court and said he could not defend those sections.
Major Fraud by the Madras Government in the 1959 Act
Left with no choice but to come up with an amended Act in light of the above judgments of the Madras High Court and Supreme Court of India, the Government of Madras passed a new Act known as the Hindu Religious &Charitable Endowments Act of 1959 (Act 22 of 1959).
In that amended Act, it committed serious frauds which till today continue unchallenged. To understand these frauds we need to know more about the 1954 Supreme Court judgment in the Shirur Mutt Case.
Under the 1951 Act, the HR & CE Dept. had powers under sections 56, 58(3)(b) and 63 to 68 to appoint an Executive Officer to religious institutions including Mutts. Of these, sections 56 and 63-68 were held ultra vires the Constitution of India and were struck down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the above-mentioned judgment. The same judgment upheld Sec. 58(3)(b) as valid (this section was earlier struck down by the Division Bench of Madras High Court) since there were adequate appeal safeguards and since the Executive Officer so appointed could only be a servant of the Trustee and could not be empowered to act as the Trustee himself.
Any honest and law-abiding person would imagine that the Madras Government, in deference to the Supreme Court of India and to meet the ends of justice, would have deleted the two sets of sections struck down and retained the section upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
What happened was exactly the opposite.
The Government of Madras introduced a new section [section 45] in the 1959 Act which was even more arbitrary and draconian than Sec. 56 of the 1951 Act. It also retained the Sections 63-68 in the new Act which now carried the numbers 71-76.
The only section relating to appointment of Executive Officer that was upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court was not carried in the new Act. But this would not seem strange if we understand that the intention of the Government and the Department was that no appeal safeguards should be provided to the Trustees of Hindu Institutions against the Department’s illegal and arbitrary orders. Sec. 58(3)(b) of the 1951 Act had earlier afforded such safeguards – it was therefore removed by the Government.
More intriguing is the fact that this rogue department continue to appoint Executive Officers under Sec. 64 of the 1959 Act (the equivalent of Sec. 58 in the 1951 Act) without any power to do so. For example, the Deputy Commissioner in 1963 modified the scheme for Shri Kamakshi Amman Temple of Kachipuram, which is under the ownership of the Kanchi Mutt. While proceeding to modify the scheme under Sec. 64 of the Act, the Deputy Commissioner appointed an Executive Officer and this is an illegal act.
These frauds show there were adequate number of scoundrels and scalawags in the HR & CE Department sixty years ago, and we all know the Dept. has no dearth of such people now.
Going against the dictum of the Hon’ble High Court and the Hon’ble Supreme Court did not stop here. One classic example of the arrogance of the Government is the amendment they brought out soon after the Full Bench judgment in the Rajan Kattalai Case in the Supreme Court (1965 SCR (3) 17). In this case, to get over the quashing of the Extension of the Executive Officer’s appointment, the Government amended the HR & CE Act introducing Sec. 75-A which gave such extensions retrospective effect notwithstanding any judgments by any courts including the Supreme Court. This attempt to retain control over Rajan Kattalai of Tiruvarur Thiagarajaswami Devasthanam in utter contempt to the judgment of the Highest Court of the land in that case was thwarted by the Hon’ble Madras High Court. The Hon’ble High Court of Madras, held:
- “by introducing Section 75-A the Legislature has simply directed the Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments and Executive Officer of Sri Thiagarajaswami Temple to disobey or disregard the decision of the highest court of the land in S.D.G. Pandara Sannadhi v. State of Madras (1965) 2 M.L.J. 167. The obvious purpose of Section 75-A extending the impugned notification is to nullify the effect of this decision of the Supreme Court.” (emphasis added).
In view of this judgment of the Madras High Court, the Government could not succeed in retaining administration of Rajan Kattalai Endowment, but this and other illegal sections 75-B and 75-C are still part of the HR& CE Act, not only in utter disregard of the dictum of the Supreme Court of India, but also in violation of Article 31A(1)(b) of the Constitution.
What Hindus should know
HR & CE Dept. officials carry out of a lot of illegal activities in temples and other religious institutions. Most of their orders replacing Trustees or interfering in temple matters are without jurisdiction or in abuse of it. The general impression of Hindu devotees is that these officials have the power under law to do such acts. Nothing can be farther from truth. Every Hindu Devotee should be aware of the following facts:
(1) HR&CE Dept. or Government cannot appoint Executive Officers to any religious institution without valid reasons and without following natural justice:
As per the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Velur Devasthanam Case 1965 SCR (2) 934, a case must be always made out for an appointment of an Executive Officer. Government or HR & CE Department or even Courts cannot appoint Executive Officers without strong justification. This is the position in the case of non-denominational temples. In case of denominational temples like Chidambaram Shri Sabhanayagar Temple, the HR & CEDept. has no rights at all, in view of the special status accorded to denominations by Article 26 of the Constitution and by Sec. 107 of the HR &CE Act.
Further, the Commissioner or the Department need to follow the principles of natural justice while seeking to appoint an Executive Officer and failing to do so would invalidate the appointment. This has been the dictum of a Division Bench of Hon’ble Madras High Court in D. Nagarajan vs. Commissioner, HR & CE AIR 1971 Mad 295.
(2) General Policy or “Better Management” cannot be reasons for takeover of temple administration: HR&CE Dept. cannot appoint Executive Officer to any religious institution stating it is Government policy to appoint Executive Officers for most temples.
Better or efficient management too cannot be reasons for takeover of temples from the Trustees.
(3) Executive Officer can be given powers only to look after the properties of the temple. He cannot interfere in religious matters or other matters of administration: Even in cases where Courts have approved the appointment of Executive Officer due to presence of mismanagement in the religious institution, the Commissioner can give powers pertaining only to the properties of the temple or institution to the Executive Officer. No other powers, administrative or religious can be assigned to the Executive Officer.
(4) Executive Officer’s office premises should not be within the temple premises: As per rule 8 of the Temple Entry Authorization Act, 1947, “the temple buildings and premises shall not be used for purposes not connected with or arising from the worship, usages and observations of such temples”.
(5) Any notice issued by the HR & CEDept. appointing Executive Officer should state the reasons for appointment and should provide reasonable opportunity to reply or refute the notice.
(6) Executive Officer or any other HR & CE official cannot introduce innovations concerning the time, place or mode of worship in the temple or stop or discontinue any religious practice followed in the temple.
(7) Executive Officer has no authority to fix archana or darshan charges: This may come as a surprise to many but it is only theTrustee or Trustees who can fix these charges and not the Executive Officer or any other official in the HR & CE. This is as per Sec. 57 of the HR& CE Act, 1959.
Frauds committed by HR & CE in appointing Executive Officers to Hindu Religious institutions
In 1970, a division bench of the Hon’ble High Court of Madras came down heavily on the practice of HR & CE in not following natural justice while appointing an Executive Officer for a temple. If one imagined that the Department would have corrected itself and adhered to the principles of natural justice after this judgment one could not be more wrong.
To this day, the practice of the HR& CE is to begin by issuing “an order” appointing an Executive Officer to a religious institution. If the institution receiving the “order” does not seek any legal remedy, the Executive Officer takes over immediately. If the Trustees file a suit or writ against the arbitrary takeover attempt, HR&CE would state in the Court that this memorandum can be treated as a notice and the trustees can reply to it. Trustees and institutions naïve enough to fall for this stratagem would accept this in the Court and start replying to the HR & CE Dept to the “notice”. HR&CE Dept. would usually pass a “final order” appointing an Executive Officer while the purported “enquiry” is still on.
If the trustees file a case against this “final order”, HR&CE Dept’s stand in the Court would be that there is an alternate remedy available to the petitioners by way of review petition to the Government. Courts usually are inclined to tell the petitioners to avail this alternate remedy, which in reality is no remedy at all as the Government is known to uphold all the illegal and unethical orders of the HR&CE Dept.
There have been instances in recent times where HR&CE officials demanding bribes to cancel takeover proceedings were arrested. In 2009 a Joint Commissioner of HR & CE Dept was caught accepting bribes for this purpose.
Commissions and Omissions
HR & CE Dept. claims it is administering only the secular aspects of Temple Administration and ensuring that the moneys due to the institution are realized and used for the purposes for which the endowments were made. Lofty sounding, but if one were to analyse what really happens in the temples administered by this roguedepartment one would find corruption and looting not found even in traditionally corrupt Government departments.
Temples and Mutts in Tamil Nadu own 500,000 acres of agricultural and other lands. The tenancy laws in Tamil Nadu and the non-functioning Revenue Courts make it almost impossible for landowners to realize any rent or revenue from the leased lands. The HR&CE Dept., which is hand in glove with the Government, takes no credible action to realize these rents or arrears of rents. The Dept. gave a shocking reply to a recent query under the RTI Act that it has no records of the ageing arrears or amount due to the temples. This admission alone is enough to boot out this rogue department from the temples.
Temples in Tamil Nadu also own about 22000 buildings and about 33,000 sites. These buildings and sites are leased out at values much below the market value. The corrupt HR & CE officials and Tamil Nadu Government officials and Ministers pocket huge sums for favouring leaseholders. These buildings are also leased out to non-Hindus especially Christian missionaries and charities which carry out their anti-Hindu activities from these places. This is against the intent and dictum of the people who had donated these places to the temples.
Huge corruption money flowing out of such transactions is the main reason Government does not want to give up its hold on Hindu Temples and institutions. Highly inflated project costs are another way by which HR& CE officials loot temple moneys. For example, Podu Dikshitars of Chidambaram had dismantled the Paniya Nayagam temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya, within the Chidambaram temple precincts, as the roof and pillars were bound to cave in due to loose soil in the basement. This was done as per advice of engineers and stapathis; a new construction plan drawn at a cost of Rs. 90 lakhs and work begun.
The Executive Officer after assuming office in the Chidambaram temple stopped the sponsors from continuing the work. He has now given a proposal for the same work at a cost of Rs. 10 crores!
A luxury Toyota car was bought for Sri Maasaniamman Temple near Pollachi at a cost of Rs. 11.5 lakhs. The first question that comes to mind is why a luxury car is required for a temple. It has come out in newspapers and through RTI queries that this car was used for private purposes of the HR &CE Secretary in the Tamil Nadu government. It is also now known that the monthly petrol bills of this corrupt official were taken from Temple funds.
Funds accumulated in fixed deposits in the accounts of rich temples would suddenly be transferred for flood relief, tsunami or Chief Minister’s relief fund. Funds were repeatedly taken from Tiruverkadu Mariamman temple to conduct free marriages by the Tamil Nadu government. This temple which had huge deposits of money became almost bankrupt.
Since the HR & CE stopped having external audit from 1985, it is almost impossible to gauge how many antique and valuable temple jewels have been looted. There is widespread belief that valuable diamonds and stones in jewels have been removed and replaced by ordinary stones in many temples. Missing Maragatha lingams worth thousands of crores have not been recovered. Jewels from 215 temples have been stolen and this rogue department does not even reveal the actual value of the jewels stolen. In many cases the loss of jewels is not known to the outside world at all.
On 22 December 2010, devotees discovered that about 156 globes made of gold and 108 globes made of silver, in the palanquins of the God and Goddess in the Perur Temple, were missing. This came to light only when the Golden and Silver palanquins were taken out in procession.
More than 400 antique metal icons have been stolen from temples under the administration of the HR&CE department, which has not taken any credible follow up actions to recover the valuables. Instead of installing closed-circuit cameras, burglar alarms and modern safety locks, the Department keeps many icons belonging to various temples at one safe room in a big temple. These icons are thus deprived of poojas and maintenance. Continuous neglect of these icons can result in irreparable damage. Further, these sacred icons were meant for worship and this Department willfully ignores this primary purpose. While millions are wasted and looted by Dept. officials no care is taken to protect these treasures.
Another crime commonly perpetrated by the department officials is soliciting sponsors to celebrate festivals even for temples that have sufficient and surplus income. Two things are achieved in this manner.
One, the unscrupulous officials are not called upon to show the incomes realized from specific endowments meant for such festivals. Soon the endowments or their existence would be soon forgotten and those properties can be sold or leased out for a pittance. Two, bribes can be taken from competing sponsors or accounts can be easily fudged when there are multiple sponsors.
Kapaleeshwar temple in Mylapore has many income generating properties. Still, the Department takes more than 80% of the money required for the Arupathi Moovar festival from sponsors who are given undue positions of importance during festivals ignoring devotees whose families and communities have contributed for generations.
Prasadam stalls are amongst the biggest frauds openly committed by this rogue Department. Only food prepared piously in the temple kitchen and offered to the deities in the temple in traditional manner can be termed as prasadam. However, Prasadam Stalls are auctioned by the Department (needless to say many improprieties are committed in these auctions and allotments) to the public and supposedly the stalls are allotted to the highest bidder. This means the Department openly allows third parties to produce food items to be manufactured outside the temple premises and packages them to be sold at temples. This is an act which is at once blasphemous and anti-religious besides being a huge fraud on devotees visiting the temple.
Besides, prasadam shops and stalls, other shops and commercial activities are permitted by the Department. These acts of the Department are detrimental to the serene atmosphere that needs to be maintained in temples and commercialises Hindu religious institutions.
Hundies serve the Department in two ways. One, they generate income which the Department fails to realize from the properties of the temple it is administering. Two, they are the easiest source of income that can be looted. In most temples, the real amount generated by hundials is never accounted for. The only exception to this story is the tale of the Hundies illegally installed in Chidambaram Shri Sabhanayagar temple. At Chidambaram the Department is trying to prove a point by showing a big collection of hundie monies. In the first place, the Hon’ble Division Bench of Madras High Court in 1951 had clearly ruled that the Podu Dikshitars are justified in not having any Hundie in the temple and further stated installing Hundies and introducing archana tickets commercialises the temple.
But after assuming office in the Chidambaram Temple, the Executive Officer came with a posse of policemen and installed Hundies in the temple that never had Hundies in its entire history. This is against the law, temple tradition, and in contempt of the Hon’ble High Court of Madras.
After installing Hundies, the Department did two things to ensure it is able to show good collection in the Hundies. It did not handover the second key of the Hundies to the Trustees and they do not seal the Hundies each time after they open it for counting. When it was pointed out the Podu Dikshitars’ collection in gold and other valuables far exceed the Hundie collections even today, and the public have not contributed a single gram of gold to the Executive Officer like they do to the real owners of the temple, the Podu Dikshitars, about 4 gms of gold suddenly appeared among the hundie collections!
What Hindus should do
Hindus should question any attempt to takeover temples in their respective areas by HR & CE Department. They should remember thatHR & CE officials have no right to takeover temples that are run by devoted trustees. HR & CE Dept. is only a supervisory department even for temples under its administration, and cannot decide matters pertaining to rituals and religion.
Devotees should ask HR & CE Dept. pertinent questions regarding the temple properties, the income realized, in whose presence Hundies are opened, what are the procedures followed in making and distribution of prasadams, salary arrears of temple employees, income arrears for the properties, why Executive Officer was appointed for each temple, for what period the appointment has been made, order copies of the appointments, arrears of income pending from temple properties, action taken by the Executive Officer, the festivals celebrated in the temple regularly 25 years ago, festivals celebrated now, vehicles bought for the temple, who uses the vehicles and for what purposes, etc. under the Right to Information Act.
Hindus should remember that it is not the duty of asecular government to manage the affairs of Hindu Temples or institutions. They should also remember that the same Government keeps away from mosques and churches.
Hindus should join together and petition the Government and the Courts to bring back outside agencies to audit the HR &CE Dept.
Hindus should take legal action against the Government to restore the temples back to the Trustees or to appropriate Hindu associations.
(The author is a banking professional and research scholar on Hindu religious affairs)
The on-going loot of Hindu temples
Author: MV Kamath Publication: Organiser Date: January 23, 2011
WHILE Congress leaders are hell-bent on damning the RSS – it is an old game that has long ceased to have any meaning – they seem to be unaware (or deliberately wish to ignore) that as late as on July 4, 2010 the right hand of a 53-year old Christian college professor (one TJ Joseph) was chopped off by Muslim fundamentalists, at Thodapurzha, Iduki district, in Kerala, for alleged blasphemy.
Digvijay Singh probably doesn’t want to be reminded of this. Nor, one suspects, would he be anxious to know that police found out that this heinous crime was committed as part of the implementation of the verdict of a Shariah court run by fundamentalist elements in Kerala. The police apparently discovered that 14 such parallel courts have been running in Kerala for the last twenty years and Kerala State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has been reported as confessing that since 1993, twenty two murders have taken place under the direction of the Shariah courts in Kerala (vide, Mangalam Daily Kottayam, July 21, 2010).
Digvijay Singh can check this bit of information as could Rahul Gandhi. At the same time, they could both check out on the performance of The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act of 1951 which allows State Governments and politicians to take over thousands of Hindu Temples and maintain complete control over them and their properties. It is claimed that they can sell the temple assets and properties and use the money in any way they choose.
A charge has been made not by any Temple authority, but by a foreign writer, Stephen Knapp in a book (Crimes Against India and the Need to Protect Ancient Vedic Tradition) published in the United States that makes shocking reading. Hundreds of temples in centuries past have been built in India by devout rulers and the donations given to them by devotees have been used for the benefit of the people. If, presently, money collected has ever been misused (and that word needs to be defined), it is for the devotees to protest and not for any government
to interfere. This letter is what has been happening currently under an intrusive law. It would seem, for instance, that under a Temple Empowerment Act, about 43,000 temples in Andhra Pradesh have come under government control and only 18 per cent of the revenue of these temples have been returned for temple purposes, the remaining 82 per cent being used for purposes unstated.
Apparently even the world famous Tirumala Tirupati Temple has not been spared. According to Knapp, the temple collects over Rs 3,100 crores every year “and the State Government has not denied the charge that as much as 85 per cent of this is transferred to the State Exchequer, much of which goes to causes that are not connected with the Hindu community”. Was it for that reason that devotees make their offering to the temples? Another charge that has been made is that the Andhra Government has also allowed the demolition of at least ten temples for the construction of a golf course. “Imagine the outcry” writes Knapp, “if ten mosques had been demolished”. It would seem that in Karanataka, Rs. 79 crores were collected from about two lakh temples and from that, temples received Rs
seven crores for their maintenance, Muslim madrassahs and Haj subsidy were given Rs 59 crore and churches about Rs 13 crore. Very generous of the government. Because of this, Knapp writes, “25 per cent of the two lakh temples or about 50,000 temples in Karnataka will be closed down for lack of resources”, and he adds: “The only way the government can continue to do this is because people have not stood up enough to stop it”. Knapp then refers to Kerala where, he says, “funds from the Guruvayur Temple are diverted to other government projects denying improvement to 45 Hindu temples”. Land belonging to the Ayyappa Temple, apparently has been grabbed and “Church encroaches are occupying huge areas of forest land, running into thousands of acres, near Sabarimala”.
A charge is made that the Communist state government of Kerala.. wants to pass an Ordinance to disband the Travancore & Cochin Autonomous Devaswom Boards (TCDBs) and take over their limited independent authority of 1,800 Hindu temples. If what the author says is true, even the Maharashtra Government wants to take over some 450,000 temples in the state which would “supply a huge amount of revenue to correct the state’s bankrupt conditions..” And to top it all, Knapp says that in Orissa, the state government intends to sell over 70,000 acres of endowment lands from the Jagannath Temple, the proceeds of which would solve a huge financial crunch brought about by its own mismanagement of temple assets. Says Knapp: “Why such occurrences are so often not known is that the Indian media, especially the English television and press, are often anti-Hindu in their approach, and thus not inclined to give much coverage, and certainly no sympathy, for anything that may affect the Hindu community. Therefore, such government action that play against the Hindu community go on without much or any attention attracted to them”.
Knapp obviously is on record. If the facts produced by him are incorrect, it is up to the government to say so. It is quite possible that some individuals might have set up temples to deal with lucrative earnings. But that, surely, is none of the government’s business? Instead of taking over all earnings, the government surely can appoint local committees to look into temple affairs so that the amount discovered is fairly used for the public good? Says Knapp: “Nowhere in the free, democratic world are the religious institutions managed, maligned and controlled by the government, thus denying the religious freedom of the people of the country. But it is happening in India. Government officials have taken control of Hindu temples because they smell money in them, they recognise the indifference of Hindus, they are aware of the unlimited patience and tolerance of Hindus, they also know that it is not in the blood of Hindus to go to the streets to demonstrate, destroy property, threaten, loot, harm and kill.
Many Hindus are sitting and watching the demise of their culture. They need to express their views loud and clear..” Knapp obviously does not know that should they do so, they would be damned as communalists. But it is time some one asked the Government to lay down all the facts on the table so that the public would know what is happening behind its back. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not secularism. And temples are not for looting, under any name. One thought that Mohammad of Ghazni has long been dead.