The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government on a plea alleging deputation of government employees for the administration of Hindu Temples in the State.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli sought a response from the Tamil Nadu government and Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, Tamil Nadu within six weeks. “In the meantime, CS Vaidyanathan, senior counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner states that a further affidavit would be filed indicating (i) the number of temples in the State of Tamil Nadu where no trustees have been appointed; and (ii) the number of temples in which government officers have been deputed,” the bench stated in its order.
The order of the top court came on the plea filed by petitioner TN Ramesh pointing out that temples are administered by the State in derogation of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959.
During the hearing, Vaidyanathan argued that trustees have not been appointed because of the state government’s inaction and now they have brought in government employees.
It was further contended that creating posts in the temples by the Commissioner and State would alter the temples’ characters.
“The trustees of each temple are the sole authorities to appoint employees, whether temporary or permanent, for the administration of the respective temples, under Section 55(1) of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959. Curiously enough, no trustees have been appointed to about 19,000 non-hereditary temples in the State for more than eleven years by the authorities under the 1959 Act,” the plea stated.
The plea further sought a direction to revert all the government employees working in the administration of the non-hereditary temples and to refund the salaries, allowances and other perquisites paid to them from the temple funds.