Many temples all through out India are under Govt. Control. What is means is, the Govt. manages the temples, even takes away the entire income from the temples. It is also said that the income from Hindu temples is being used to pay the salary of Mullahs and build Madrassas. It may be true considering the fact that once Govts. gets the money, they may use the money in any way they want.

But freeing the Temples from Govt. control outright may also lead to massive corruption by the servitors of the temples. For e.g., we see massive levels of corruption in many temples. For e.g. in Puri Jagannath temple, the Pandas blatantly loot the devotees, the “Ratna Bhandar i.e. Jewellary House” keys went missing and lot of golden ornaments have simply vanished (in other words stolen).

Temples are Hindu institutions, their income comes from the faith of Hindu devotees, and hence the money earned should be ploughed back to the service of Hindu society.

It is not only Hinduism, we see massive corruption among the Muslim Wakf boards. “Wakf” means property which is surrendered to “Allah” and Wakf board is a mere caretaker of the property. The income from Wakf Boards across India is a fraction of what it should be.

I would propose the following legislation for managing all Religious Places (temples, mosques, churches etc.).

  1. On lines of Real Estate Regulatory Act (RERA), we should have a Religious Places Regulatory Act (RPRA) which will govern all the religious institutions across India including Mosques, temples, Churches etc.
  2. This will ensure a uniform law for management of religious institutions just like a Uniform Civil Code in matter of personal laws.
  3. The law would apply to any religious institution of any religion where the property is lying on a public/Govt land or the land is owned by the deity or Almighty (in case of Wakf properties).
  4. The state Govts shall have power to bring any religious institution under the act just by a Govt. notification.
  5. The religious institution shall be managed by a “Managing Committee” whose Chairman, members(the number should be specified by the State Govt.) shall be chosen by a body consisting of MP of the area, MLA of the area, Mayor (or Sarpanch), Corporator (or Ward Member) and the collector of the area
  6. The members of the “Managing Committee” shall be chosen for 6 years and may be re-nominated, but no member can be present in the Managing Committee of more than one religious institution.
  7. All the decisions of the “Managing Committee” shall be based on majority votes cast by the members present and voting with the Chairman having the casting vote.
  8. State Govt. can put additional restrictions like the Managing Committee of temples shall consist of Hindus and of a Mosque shall consist of Muslims etc.
  9. The managing committee shall be responsible for management of temple premises including hiring/firing the Priests/Mullahs, having full control of the income of the institution, where to spend, how to spend, how much salary to pay, how to select the vendor(s) etc.
  10. At least 50% (or a higher number as specified by the State Govt) of the profit (after paying salary of the priests/Mullahs, maintenance of temples and other expenses) shall be spent for public service i.e. giving scholarships to needy study students, feeding the poor, building dharmashalas etc. The Managing Committee shall have full control as how to spend the money.
  11. If the Temple’s managing committee cannot spend the money, the money shall be deposited in a kind of “District Development Fund” Which shall be controlled by a committee formed by the MP(s), MLA(s), Mayor(s) or sarpanch(s) of the district.
  12. The accounts of the religious institution shall be subject to audit by the Govt. approved auditors and be summitted to the state Govt on a periodic basis who shall re-verify the report before accepting it.
  13. The Managing committee members can be removed because of any misconduct or corruption by the state govt.

What will happen if we have such a system in place?

  1. The temples would be freed from Govt control. The Govt would have no say in the matters of management of the temples.
  2. The income from temples/mosques/Churches or any religious institution shall be used for the upliftment of the society. If the private companies are forced to spend 2% of their profits for social causes, then why not the temples/mosques which are public institutions?
  3. The religious institutions will be democratically managed, as the managing committee would be chosen by public representatives with little/no Govt. intervention.
  4. Having audit of the accounts would ensure transparency.
  5. By making managing committee all powerful, any corruption by priests/mullahs would vanish.
  6. Just like an “Uniform Civil Code”, a single law would apply to all religious institutions across India. We will have an uniform religious places management law, unlike today where the funds of temples are taken away by Govt but Mosques/Churches are left untouched.

In nutshell, the religious institutions are public properties and they should be used for be upliftment of the society, not for watering the pockets of the Priests/Mullahs/Govt. Officials.

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