news Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | December 22, 2014 | 4.05 pm IST The ruling Congress government’s introduction of a bill to amend the Hindu religious endowments act has caused much stir in the state. On the last day of the winter session in Belagavi the state government passed the Karnataka Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act (Amendment Bill) 2014 when BJP members were protesting against the government in the well of the house. It now needs the assent of the Governor. The amendment seeks to bring Mutts within the purview of the law, by intervening in its affairs when certain circumstances arise. At present, the act governs only temples and the places of worship of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains, but does not cover Mutts which impart religious instruction and induct boys into priesthood. Addressing a press conference on Monday, Law and Muzrai minister T B Jayachandra said “it is not the government’s intention to interfere with the functioning of Mutts.” He said that when cases like the disputes at the Sosale Mutt and the Shringeri Mutt came up, the government could not say that there was no law to deal with the issue. The two Mutts are embroiled in disputes involving succession and the property of the Mutts. Jayachandra said the state government had a “commitment” to the Supreme Court and that a writ petition was pending in the court and slated for hearing on January 13. He said that the Supreme Court had appointed the Rama Jois committee to look into the question of whether the government should intervene in the affairs of Mutts and the committee had submitted a report in September 2009.  The minister said that the government would only intervene in the matters of the Mutt if there were complaints or if disputes regarding succession arose, if an under-age person was appointed head of the Mutt, if the head was physically or mentally incapable of carrying out their duties. He also said that a government official would if convinced, recommend that the government take over the functioning of the Mutt. He said that even in such a scenario the traditional customs of the Mutt would not be interfered with. Asked about seers of various Mutts in the state threatening to take to the streets if the government did not withdraw the bill, Jayachandra said: “There is no need for them to take to the streets. We have brought the law because when we have two instances (Shringeri and Sosale) before us, it should not be said that there is lawlessness.” RSS media in-charge for Karnataka Rajesh Padmar said that there are disputes even among the “so-caled minorities”. “When the government talks about equality and secularism, why exclude (the minority-run) institutions?” The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has planned a protest in Bengaluru on Wednesday. In an interaction with the media in Mangalore earlier last week, the head of the Nidumamidi Mutt in Kolar district addressed the issue of nationalization of Mutts and religious institutions. He said that the idea was debated publicly during the then prime minister Indira Gandhi’’s time, but now, while individual demands were made from some quarters, it was a public demand. However he said that if the government came up with a “good policy” for the nationalization of religious institutions, he was in favour of it. The BJP could not be reached for comment. Tweet

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