P.K. Narayana Panicker, general secretary, Nair Service Society (NSS) has called upon the State government not to move ahead with the proposed Travancore-Kochi Religious Institutions Act (amendment) in the ensuing budget session of the Kerala Assembly.

In a statement issued at Perunna on Tuesday, Mr. Panicker called upon the government to desist from moving ahead with the enactment of the bill as it would have no legal validity and the bill, which concerns only the Hindu community, has been published without even seeking their opinion.

As per the provisions of the proposed amendment, the number of board members will increase from the present three to seven as a means to ensure the representation of the various sections of the Hindu community and to lessen the work load of the members. Another major recommendation was to provide the State government with the power of revision of decisions taken by the Boards. The immediate result of these two provisions, if implemented, would be that the Boards would fall into major financial crisis and its autonomy would be significantly curtailed, ultimately bringing it under the control of the government, he said.

According to Mr Panicker, the administration of temple affairs during the past ten months, sans the Boards, have proved beyond doubt that the issue of increasing work load was not correct. More over, with representation for women and scheduled category among the Board members, the interests of various sections of the Hindu community has also been taken care of. The only result of the increase in the number of Board members would be a quantum jump in the expenditure of the Boards, he said.

According to him, as per the amendment, the power of revision on decisions taken by the Boards, is being vested with a secular government. This in effect, would enable the political administration, which include non Hindus, to take over the administration of Hindu temples. This would also be a direct assault on the autonomy of the Devaswom Boards which are vested with the administration of the Hindu temples as per the original covenant enacted during the period of erstwhile princely state, he said.

Mr. Panicker pointed out that the NSS had already taken up the issue with the Chief Minister, Minister for Devaswoms, other cabinet members and MLAs. As per the above submission, the NSS had pointed out that there was no need to make amendments to the Travancore Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act of 1950 presently and the present amendment would be viewed as a move to usurp the powers of the Boards and control the temple administration. The NSS view this amendment as a move to treat the Hindu community differently from other communities and an interference in the internal affairs of the religion as per the above submission.

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