The Tamil Nadu government has withdrawn its order to temples to donate Rs 10 crore (while it granted sops and relief to mosques during Ramzan) to fight coronavirus following nationwide protests by the Hindu community followed by a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Madras High Court. Quashing the order of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, the court said this was not legally tenable.
A bench of the high court comprising Justice Vinod Kothari and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana ruled that the Tamil Nadu government order dated 22 April was invalid. The PIL by the Hindu Temple Worshippers’ Society had demanded a stay on the order. Publisher of Tamil newspaper Dinamalar RR Gopaljee had filed a separate petition.
The Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments has issued a new circular and withdrawn the order.
The petitioners had said that the commissioner had no authority to issue the 22 April order, especially because all the temples had remained closed for the past two months due to the central government-ordered nationwide lockdown. They argued that the lack of revenue had left the temples with no surplus. They said it was not right to tax the temples at this juncture while, perhaps deliberately, not questioning why the other communities were being appeased.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), welcoming the court order, appreciated the “social as well as legal pressure” exerted by the Hindu community. It warned all governments to desist from taking such “anti-Hindu measures” in the future.
VHP spokesman Vinod Bansal welcomed the decision and congratulated the Hinduist organisations. He said after the order, “The anti-Hindu face of the Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh governments are evident. Both the governments are encouraging conversion of Hindus, violating the sanctity of temples and eyeing the wealth of God, which is unconstitutional, condemnable and a deep injury to Hindu society.”
What kind of secularism dictates that the money donated by Hindu believers and the wealth of the temples be spent on the evangelism of Christians and tabligh by Muslims rather than on the welfare of temples, Hindu religious works and Hindu society, Bansal asked. “Governments should come out of this anti-Hindu mentality, otherwise…,” he warned.
The Tamil Nadu government had ordered 47 temples in the state to pay Rs 10 crore to the CM Relief Fund. In contrast, the state government had on 16 April ordered 5,450 tonnes of free rice to be distributed to 2,895 mosques in the month of Ramadan (Ramzan) to feed Muslims after Roza.