Govt. should cease and desist controlling Hindu temples

via PRESS RELEASE BY SRI SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY published on February 18, 2008

The Union Government must enter into an urgent consultation with the apex Hindu body of sadhus, namely the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha (HDAS) convened by Swami Dayananda Sarasvati, to substantially amend the Hindu Religious Endowments and Charitable Trust Act (1951) to bring it in conformity with Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution. At present the Act provides for total and suffocating control of Hindu temples in the country by the Government at the Centre and States, while exempting Mosques and Churches completely even from Government oversight supervision. This is highly discriminatory against the Hindus who are 83% of India’s population, and thus violates Article 14, 25 and 26 of the Constitution.

At recent conclave viz. the Third Conference of the HDAS held in the Adi Chunchanagiri Ashram in Mandya District of Karnataka (February 9-11, 2008), my invited paper on “Temple Governance” was discussed, and the HDAS adopted a unanimous Resolution on the subject. Armed with this Resolution, I met the AP Chief Minister Mr.Rajshekhar Reddy yesterday in Hyderabad with a delegation of the AP Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samiti, and urged the CM to further amend the AP Hindu Religious Endowment and Charitable Trusts Act (1987) thereby totally divest the governance of AP temples from the State Government control. The CM had last year got amended Section 152 (1) of the Act to vest the governance of temples with a Dharmika Parishad, but retained the power to nominate Parishad members entirely from and by the Government.

I therefore demanded of the CM that the power to nominate the Parishad be instead handed over to the HDAS since this body consists of the senior most sadhus, such as all the Shankaracharyas, Mahamandelswars and Peedapathis of institutions older than 200 years (hence qualified to be called Acharyas).

The Karnataka High Court has already struck down that State’s Act and an appeal is pending in the Supreme Court. Following the observations of the Supreme Court, the Karnataka Government had appointed Dr.Rama Jois Committee to advise on the necessary amendments to obviate the scrapping of the Act as a whole. This committee in its Report to Government too has recommended that the temple governance responsibility be transferred to a committee of Hindu acharyas.

I hope therefore the AP CM will not force me to litigate on the matter and will voluntarily accept this reasonable demand of the Hindus.

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