No power to declare religious institutions, HC to HR&CE staffer

Justice N Sathish Kumar passed the order on allowing a writ petition filed by Sri Santhana Srinivasa Perumal Public Charitable Trust, Mogappair, Chennai.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court DT File Photo

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court ruled that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment department’s assistant commissioner has no power to declare a charitable trust as the religious institution as the powers are only vested with the Joint Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner to decide the issue as to whether an institution is a religious institution or not.

Justice N Sathish Kumar passed the order on allowing a writ petition filed by Sri Santhana Srinivasa Perumal Public Charitable Trust, Mogappair, Chennai. The petitioner sought direction to quash the 2015 order of the assistant commissioner, HR, and CE declaring the petitioner Trust as a Religious Institution and appointment of a fit person to Arulmigu Santhana Srinivasa Perumal Temple, Mogappair.

According to the petitioner, as per Section 63 of the HR and CE Act only by the Joint Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner, thereafter the question of appointment of a fit person will arise under Section 49 of the HR and CE Act.

“The Assistant Commissioner has assumed the role of the Joint Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner without the sanction of the law and therefore the order passed by the fourth respondent Assistant Commissioner declaring the petitioner trust as a religious institution and appointing a fit person under Section 49 of the HR-amp;CE Act is not sustainable in the eye of the law, ” the petitioner submitted.

The petitioner also pointed out the recent verdict of HC in the Ayodhya Mandapam case that the AC of HR and CE has no power to declare a trust as a religious institution.

Even though the HR and CE submitted that there are several mismanagements in the temple funds, the judge set aside the order of the AC holding that the AC has no powers to transfer the trust into a religious institution

The judge further directed the Joint Commissioner to examine the report pertaining to the management and to pass appropriate orders within three weeks.

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