CHENNAI: A division bench of Madras High Court on Friday directed the State government not to allow people or any organisation to collect funds through the online medium under the guise of renovating the temples administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) department.
The special bench to hear temple-related cases, consisting of, Justice R Mahadevan and Justice PD Audikesavalu passed the direction on hearing an application by the HR and CE in connection with the earlier directions of the HC. The directions were issued on a suo-motu case proceeding initiated by the HC to safeguard the jewels, antiques, ornaments, and other properties of HR and CE temples.
When Arun Natarajan, standing counsel for the HR and CE submitted that the government has been renovating the heritage temples, the bench instructed him to ensure that no private people or organisations are allowed to collect funds through the internet/websites for renovating the HR and CE temples.
“If anyone was found collecting money under the guise of renovating the HR and CE temples, the government should take action against such people by blocking their websites, ” the judges observed.
Responding to the direction, the HR and CE’s counsel submitted that the police had already arrested a man for collecting funds for renovating an HR and CE temple without the consent of the department.
The HR and CE department also wanted the HC to reconsider its 32 out of 75 directions in the protection of temples. “While the government has already implemented 38 directions given by the HC, ” the government counsel noted.
The state had also explained its steps to safeguard the temples and temple properties. “The government has appointed a five-member audit committee headed by the state audit chief. The department has identified 5.82 lakh acres of HR and CE lands which were under encroachment and about 3.79 lakh acres have been recovered now. It is noted that the temple lands are being recovered approximately at the rate of 2000 acres per day, ” the HR and CE counsel noted.
Recording the submissions, the bench observed that if the state government properly collects the revenues of HR and CE temples and their properties, a separate state budget could be tabled with those resources.