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Plea filed in Madras High Court challenging the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Religious Endowment Act

Plea filed in Madras High Court challenging the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Religious Endowment Act

A petition has recently been filed against the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) Act, 1959, in the Madras High Court.

Presented on Wednesday (August 18, 2021) before a Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Adiskesavalu, the plea questions the provisions allowing the state to administer Hindu temples under the Act, while exempting all other religious institutions from the same.

The counsel for the Petitioner, R Gururaj, stated that there is no act statute for any other religion other than Hinduism that confers such wide powers in the hands of the state. The plea noted that the Act is against the fundamental rights provided under the Constitution of India and also stated that government should not be running the temple administrations.

At present, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department in Tamil Nadu looks after the administration of over 44,000 temples and over 50 mutts along with their temples. It took over the said administration of temples on January 1, 1960, through the Act passed by the Tamil Nadu Government in 1959 which finds its roots in a pre-independence statute imposed by the British in India.

The HR&CE Act, 1959 has also been criticized lately after the DMK Government under Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin issued appointment orders for people from different communities to work as priests in temples.

As for the matter at hand, the Court has asked the state of Tamil Nadu to file a rejoinder in the matter within four weeks. 

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