HR & CE of Tamil Nadu. Financial misuse of temple income and properties - only solution is severe court action and punishment.

Mismanagement of Hindu temples, TN.

No other Indian states misuse or abuse  Hindu temples, their  lands and properties as much as the Tamil Nadu government does. Being under the  control  of the state agency,  HR & CE, the most corruptive one, you can imagine what kind of administration you can expect from the officials  appointed by the state government. Mismanagement of temple income and temple prosperities has been on the increase manifold in the last 5 to 6 years. Temple income never goes to the maintenance of respective temple or repair and restoration of temples in ruins. Media reports say that their is no publicized compulsory auditing report of temple income from Hundial collection, special darshan collections, buildings or agricultural lands. Nor can they respond if  like minded citizens demand their annual auditing statement. Can you imagine countless senior officials have corporate style AC rooms and expensive cars to take care of the temples.  The large rooms  are all built on the historical temple premises (Srirangam Ranganathar temple, Arunachaleswar temple, Thiruvannamalai), in violation of heritage acts with no proper permission, thus  throwing to the wind the age old temple traditions and temple functions.  

Quite disgusted and enraged, many Hindu groups have approached the Courts of Law to free the temples from the claws of government control primarily because of too much intrusion from local netas who want to make fast buck. Though same conditions prevail in other states, mismanagement of temple finances is more visible in Tamil Nadu than other states. The bazaars with numerous shops close to the entrance gopuram/tower  inside and outside the temple are money spinners and the netas have a stake in them; no doubt, they make a bundle out of them without any sweat by way of subletting the auctioned shops.. 

More than illegal encroachment of temple properties, etc what is quite disturbing is the leased temple lands and the annual rent derived from them.  For example if an agriculture land is given on  lease seldom  do the lessees pay the 40% yield due to the temple. With  over 3 lakh acres of agriculture land with the Hindu endowment board,  if  there is just 5% encroachment of resources, just calculate the loss incurred  by the temples. The crux of the matter is the lease holders are relatives of netas, endowment board members, its staff and benamies of party politicians in power or other netas . For ordinary citizens or villagers, it is impossible to break the vicious circle   Lands which are in close proximity with towns and  commercial values are the favorite of the politicians who have contacts with powerful politicians. They are known to acquire prime temple lands at a cheap rate, far below the guideline value in collusion with corrupt officials in the registrar's office. it is mentioned  a few acres of Madurai Meenakshi temple lands in a prime area fell into the hand of a neta at a rock bottom price.  Where there is dereliction of duty on the part of officials, dishonesty and corruption openly exist without any inhibition you can expect erosion of  morality in the administrative machinery which is a tool in the hands of  netas.

TN temple lands.

The Madras High Court on Tuesday called for an explanation from the State government on the status of 47,000 acres of temple land reportedly missing from government records- the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department  since the policy note for 1984-85 states that there were 5.25 lakh acres whereas the note for 2019-20 refers to availability of only 4.78 lakh acres. A division bench of the Madras high court comprising Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice T.V. Thamilselvi had directed the state government council  to act on behalf of  (HR and CE) Department and to file a counter affidavit by July 5 on the missing  47000 acres of temple land as per government records

TN Temple lands.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly  passed a Bill to make the encroachment of properties belonging to religious institutions a cognizable and non-bailable offence,  by amending the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959. Grabbing temple land is a cognizable offence now.  The bill was passed in light of increasing instances of encroachments of properties belonging to religious institutions. This offence is serious in nature. Thus, the government considered that criminal complaint may be filed by any person who are interested in the affairs of the religious institution....


HR & CE, the government agency manages about 38,658 Hindu and 17 Jain religious institutions and  about 4.78 lakh acres of temple lands  dotting the state, So far, nearly 96,437.11 acres of land has been surveyed in 20 regions under the department. Though nearly 50,000 acres of land was surveyed in June, the progress was rather slow when the Northeast Monsoon set in by October-end. They are using the  modern survey technologies -Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) for the survey of lands and digitization of records. The survey of   the remaining 3.5 lakh acres of temple lands spread across the state will be over soon.


TN Protection of temple lands

In order to protect ancient temples, the Madras High Court said, "The intention of this court was to protect the buildings and monuments of historical and cultural heritage including the temples, as indisputably, temples are also a symbol of cultural and historical heritage''..........its immovable properties, including lands can't be sold, mortgaged or exchanged, disregarding the necessity of  of the institutions, which indisputably, are also a symbol of cultural and historical heritage"
 A bench of Justices R Mahadevan and P D Audikesavalu  further said the government lands are to be first utilized for public purpose before the lands belonging to the temples are touched. The court also said temples trustee should be appointed of those who are of unimpeachable character and showed devotion towards the deity trustees too as they would fall under the definition of ‘public servant’ since the handle public money and property. The temple properties cannot be gifted away against the interest of the institution. The intention with which the charities given by the donor cannot be shun away at the pleasure of the government or  the Commissioner. The Will of the donor is of paramount importance, which cannot be surpassed at executive pleasure against the interest of the temples," 


Controlling encroachments.

Parcels of temple land in Tamil Nadu worth thousands of crores of rupees will continue to remain in God’s possession, as the Madras high court on Friday stayed the operation of a controversial  government order that proposed to cede the encroachers.