Himachal

HIMACHAL HIGHCOURT DIRECTS ALL DCs TO FILE AFFIDAVITS ON UTILIZATION OF INCOME GENERATED FROM TEMPLES

August 09, 2018 08:14 PM

Shimla (Vijyender Sharma)

The High Court of Himachal Pradesh has directed all the Deputy Commissioners, State of H.P., in the capacity as Commissioners of different temples, falling under their jurisdiction, to file their personal affidavits regarding utilization of income generated from temples in the last five years.

A Division Bench comprising the Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel passed these orders on a writ petition filed by Shri Kashmir Chand Shadyal of Shimla. The petitioner has alleged in the petition that while visiting various temples in the State, he noticed that on account of faith, most temples were thronged by a flood of devotees who liberally donated to the temples, but despite being flushed with funds, there did not exist commensurate facilities for the pilgrims, worshippers.

He has further alleged that the funds are being wasted and are neither being utilized for propagation of Hindu religion nor for establishment, maintenance of educational institutions or for training of students, Pujaris. The petitioner has prayed that the directions be issued for utilization of the funds as per the provisions of Himachal Pradesh Hindu Public Religious institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1984.

The Court observed that from about 12 temples alone, as per official figures, an income of more than Rs.3,61,43,94,341/- has been generated in the last 10 years. The Court showed its concern as to whether this substantial amount has been utilized to fulfill the object of the Statute, i.e. to protect and preserve the properties pertaining to religious institutions and endowments.

The Court also directed the Commissioners to inform the Court on various issues, such as amount spent for maintenance and upkeep of the sanctum sanctorum, the mechanism adopted for safekeeping of the offerings of devotees, action taken to remove encroachments from the temple premises/property and whether any amount stands diverted for use of any activity other than the object of the statute.

The Court also directed the Chief Secretary to the Government of H.P., to file affidavit and explore the possibility of the institutions, having own demarcated area, for housing deserted and stray animals and for carrying out plantation of different varieties of edible fruits or have some other vegetative growth. The Court listed the matter for 13th August, 2018 for further hearing.

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