The Karnataka government has appointed seven Muslim and Christian employees in the Muzrai Department (the Hindu religious and charitable endowment department).
This move has angered the right-wing activists, who have now submitted a written complaint to Governor Vajubhai R Vala, the Times of India reported.
According to the activists, appointment of non-Hindus to the Muzrai Department is a “violation of The Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1997. Section 7 of Chapter III in the Act states that all those working in the Muzrai Department should profess Hindu religion.”
“The state government is working against the act by recruiting and continuing the services of non-Hindus in the Muzrai Department. This is illegal as it deprives Hindus of employment opportunities in the department. Legally, there is no room for other community members in the department,” Vishwa Hindu Parishad member Girish Bharadwaja told TOI.
Based on RTI replies Bharadwaja obtained from the Muzrai department, he wrote to the governor, seeking his intervention in the matter.
While the BJP has chosen to remain silent, Sangh Parivar sympathisers have made it an issue on social media by alleging that the move was made by the Congress government to safeguard the minority votes.
The Muzrai Department, however, said that it has gone by the rulebook. The department has countered the charge by saying that the seven Muslim and Christian members had been working with the department before the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1997 came into effect.
However, the department has not recruited non-Hindu members after the act came into force, the report said.
Temple management in Karnataka was earlier under the Revenue Department and was regulated by five different acts: The Karnataka Religious and Charitable Institutions Act 1927, The Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act 1951, The Bombay Public Trust Ac 1950, The Hyderabad Endowment Act and The Coorg Temple Funds Management Act 1956. All these legislations were replaced by the 1997 Act to bring about uniformity in issues related to regulation of temples and the seven employees continued with their work.
The VHP leader, however, said that if the employees have been with the department before the act came into effect, then they must be transferred to other departments.
Section 7 of Chapter III in the Karnataka Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1997 states: “The commissioner and every deputy commissioner or assistant commissioner and every other officer or servant, appointed to carry out the purposes of this Act by whomsoever appointed, shall be a person professing Hindu religion, and shall cease to hold office as such when he ceases to profess that religion.“