Chennai. It has almost become a fashion statement for all political parties during poll season to pledge their commitment and support in preserving and protecting Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu. One would also see that a huge sum of money towards this would be promised in their election manifestoes, ‘if they come to power’.
On a cursory reading of these promises, any Hindu would innocently tend to think that these are ‘favours’ done by the political parties to Hindus and that the political parties would allocate money from public kitty to ‘preserve and protect’ Hindu temples.
However, on a deep dive, one can understand that the successive governments in TN after Independence have systematically hoodwinked Hindus to make them believe that unless government takes control of the Hindu temples, it would be mayhem and hence it is in the interest of Hindus that government is taking this responsibility.
In fact, successive governments have taken Hindus for a ride in not only mismanaging temple administration and properties, but also in interfering in ‘aagamas’ by misusing the imaginary power vested on them under “Tamil Nadu Hindu Religions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959”.
The legislation “Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959” is a reincarnation of “Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951” which was struck down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the famous “Shirur Mutt Case” in 1954 as ultravires and in violation of constitution principles. However, to the shock and surprise of Hindus, the government of that time chose to re-enact the same legislation once again in 1959, retaining all the provisions of the old legislation, which were struck down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
For whatever reasons, be it Hindu apathy or government’s neglect to Hindu sentiments, this legislation was never challenged in the Court of Law till Pujya Shree Swami Dayananda Saraswati took this initiative to file a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court in 2012. He challenged the provisions of the TN HR&CE Act 1959, stating that it contains the same clauses struck down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in “Shirur Mutt” case.
The Writ Petition filed by Swami Dayananda Saraswati in 2012 is still pending to be cleared by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. To the dismay of Hindus, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, which finds time to hear the petition of a dreaded terrorist at 2:00 AM could not find time to list this eight years old case for hearing till now.
While the legality of the legislation itself is in question and in all fairness likely to be struck down by Supreme Court of India, the atrocities committed by the successive state governments by invoking the provisions of this flawed legislation are unimaginable. Right from mis-managing the temple funds, lack of maintenance of property records, usurping temple lands for other public/ private use, interfering in the aagamas of the temple, hosting events of irrelevance inside the temple premises and whatnot. In addition, the announcement of allocation of funds to Hindu temples is another misnomer as the ‘promised funds’ are from the HR&CE kitty and not from the common government kitty. Which would mean that the funds donated/contributed by Hindus are promised to be given back to us by government.
The only solution to all these maladies is to Free Hindu Temples from the clutches of the ‘secular’ government and allow Hindus to manage their own religious affairs. It is not a privilege to be done by any government, but it is the basic right of Hindus When will Hindus enjoy this basic right?