Thursday, 23 August 2018

Indian Supreme Court orders -Scrutiny of management, etc of all shrines

Chidambaramtemple, TN FIVB.com
Medak cathedral, largest in Telengana, India WalkThroughIndia
India, being a secular democratic  country  has the unique distinction of having about 20 lakh temples, about 3 lakh mosques and thousands of churches, including those built during the early and late  colonial periods spread across the length and breadth of our country. It is an impossible job for the central government to keep track of their daily functioning, visitors, assets owned by them, etc. From country's security point of view,  it is the responsibility of the government to know whether such places of worship are properly managed, their assets well taken care of and the religious services  done with utmost care. Any abuse of such places of divinity will a cause for concern. On 22 August 2018 the Supreme Court issued special orders of scrutiny of entry, assets, hygiene, etc of all shrines, thus embarking on a massive judicial audit of all places of worship and charitable institutions. 
Makkah Masjid Hyderabad, Telengana, India. Tour My India
Regarding any complaints  from public with respect to assets, hygiene, access and accounts related to shrines, district judges will examine them  and forward the reports to the High Courts which will treat them as PILs. This is applicable to all temples, mosques and churches and the district courts will treat such complaints against the places of divinity as PILs. This  will cover lots of fields - poor  management of shrines, financial irregularities, proper utilization of funds, asset management, safety of temple jewelry, antique idols, etc The implementation of this SC order is an exercise of great magnitude and it will be an additional strain on the Judiciary already bogged down by the pendency of three crore plus court cases and shortage of justices and man power at the district level.
Every place of worship has to maintain proper record in all matters related to the shrines. Even the Hundial collections and on line Puja registration will be done properly. In Tamil Nadu there are more than 7000 ancient temples among the 33,000 temples. Thefts of antique metal idols (Ayyempon Selaikal) is a major worry and it can be prevented by frequent scrutiny. Using many pretexts, many religious trusts get  donations from abroad  and misuse them for non-religious purposes and such abuses will be carefully watched and proper action will be taken..  


The SC order is a good news and it will prevent mismanagement of religious places. However, there are challenges being faced by the judiciary when acting on complaints from the people, in the light of absence of a proper well-organized  system of management at almost all shrines. Positively, the courts will need the help of those who have good knowledge of various aspects of shrines.  It is a first step in the right direction as the devotees have got every right to know how the shrines are being managed and how effectively assets, jewelry and donations  are taken care of. The court must come up with stringent punishment if the shrine employees lay hands on the funds and temple assets. It will act as a deterrent to the criminals in the administration. 

Ref: Times of India, Bengaluru Edition; dtd Aug 23, 2018.