COVID-19: HR & CE dept. withdraws circular for transfer of temple funds

It sought to transfer ₹10 crore to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund

May 05, 2020 09:43 am | Updated 09:43 am IST - CHENNAI

The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department on Monday withdrew a circular it had issued on April 22 for transferring ₹10 crore to Chief Minister’s Relief Fund from the surplus revenue of 47 top temples in the State so that the poor could be fed during the COVID-19 lockdown. The circular was withdrawn following a batch of three public interest litigation petitions filed against it in the Madras HC.

The litigants included the publisher of a Tamil news daily R.R. Gopaljee, president of Temple Worshippers Society T.R. Ramesh of Mylapore and swimming coach R. Dinesh of Triplicane here.

All three litigants claimed that the HR&CE Act does not provide for forcible transfer of temple funds. They also contended that it was not right on the part of the HR&CE Commissioner to presume that surplus funds were available with the temples and they could be transferred at will to the CM Relief Fund through an executive fiat.

It was pointed out before the court that so many skilled as well as unskilled professionals were dependent on temples and therefore funds of such institutions could not be taken away without their consent. It was also argued before the court that all temples in the State had been shut due to the lockdown and there was no flow of revenue.

When the cases were listed for admission before Justices Vineet Kothari and Pushpa Sathyanarayana on Monday, Special Government Pleader Karthikeyan informed the court that the HR&CE had decided to withdraw the April 22 circular.

After recording his submission, the judges adjourned the cases to Friday for submission of proof of withdrawal.

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