With the filing of a petition in Madras High Court (being heard) seeking to quash the Government order and circular on implementation of Gold Monetisation Scheme of Tamil Nadu Temple jewellery, a monumental fraud has been aborted.
The temple properties, both movable and immovable, antique jewellery, rare and invaluable idols, were the targets of politicians, international idol smuggling mafia and some corrupt HR and CE officials. Lakhs of acres of temple lands were grabbed, alienated and given to custodians of other faiths. Idols were being stolen and smuggled for a hefty sum. Ancient temple jewellery, of antique value was, reportedly, replaced with duplicate ones. There is a solid cry to retrieve the temples from the Government control and leave them function independently like the Waqf oard and Christian churches. But both the DMK and AIADMK are not in favour of it for reasons better known to them. A piece of Vadapalani temple land was given free of cost to the Muslims to make the public path to their illegal mosque.
Violation of SC orders
Ever since the DMK came to power, from day one, its actions have been aimed at robbing temples of their vast properties, its income, jewels and interfering in its daily Agama-based rituals. It first announced women would be appointed in temples as archakars. The next bomb was the appointment of non-Brahmins, improperly trained priests as Archakars in agama- based temples which is a clear violation of SC orders. Temple lands were acquired for public interest purposes like building collectorates and bus stands. Thanks to the court's intervention, they have been saved. Income from offertory collections (Undiyal) and other incomes from Hindu Temples are being used for purposes other than they are intended for. Despite strong opposition from the public and devotees, the DMK-led MK Stalin Government is bent on implementing the scheme of melting temple jewellery into gold bars to be kept in bank vaults.
According to Hindu Reiligious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Minister PR Sekar Babu, there are about 38,000 temples that have 2,000 kg of gold worth Rs.10,000 crore.
TN Government has proposed to melt 2,137 kg of gold jewellery at the India Government Mint in Mumbai into bullion, which would then be deposited at nationalised banks. Bharat's gold (pure) reserve with the RBI is 703.71 tonnes. If the jewellery in hand and melted one are to be accounted for properly, TN temples are more prosperous. But the irony is that they are in dilapidated conditions, and many temples do not even have funds for one-day pujas. Temple staff are not paid regularly, and there is a huge outstanding debt.
The gemstones used in the gold ornaments would be removed before sending them to the Government refinery in Mumbai, where they would be melted and made into gold biscuits. This will be deposited in banks to raise funds for welfare schemes.
Opposing this move, M Saravanan and Gopalakrishnan filed a petition seeking to quash the September 9 Government order and a circular dated September 22. They said deprivation of precious temple property violates the constitutional right to property under Article 300A of the Constitution. They said the same pieces of jewellery are going to be melted by a so-called secular State. After melting, it can’t be identified from which temple it came from and how the proceeds will be divided. It is well laid in law that deities are the owners and for whom people have donated. When these jewellery and ornaments belong to temples, the State has no authority to touch them. Their counsel argued that the devotees had no clue about the jewellery of the temple as no register was adequately maintained by the HR and CE Dept. However, the Court had issued an earlier order regarding the same. Rule 11 of Jewel Rule says the trustee is the only person who can decide on repairing or altering the same. Rule 13 provides power to the trustee to melt jewels" Now, in the absence of the appointment of trustees, how can the Government intervene and decide on melting the same?
Ever since the DMK came to power, from day one, its actions have been aimed at robbing temples of their vast properties, its income, jewels and interfering in its daily AgAma based rituals. It first announced women would be appointed in temples as archakars. The next bomb was the appointment of non-Brahmins, improperly trained people as Archakars in agama- based temples which is a clear violation of SC orders
Government counsel said, “About 500 kg of gold has been melted into bars so far and deposited at banks. This has earned Rs. 11 crores through interest. It was being practised during the past 44 years and why some are now creating a furore over it' '. A division of Madras HC court comprising judges R Mahadevan and Abdul Quddhose have adjourned the matter.
The Tamil Nadu Government on October 13 told the Madras HC that the practice of melting temple gold jewellery was not new and that it had been in vogue since 1977. So they have been looting for 44 years. The court was informed that 5 lakh kg of jewellery had been melted and deposited in banks so far.
While a top court is hearing the matter, Chief Minister MK Stalin virtually launched preliminary works to melt gold ornaments in temples under HR and CE and convert them into gold. He launched the work at the Karumariamman temple in Thiruverkadu, Maraiamman temple in Samayapuram and Mariamman temple in Irukkankudi. These are famous temples. Earlier, the Government had appointed retired SC judge justice D Raju and two High Court judges, justices K Ravichandrababu and R Mala. Do devotees ask what was the urgency in these while the scheme lacks transparency? Another devotee says after melting, they may not give the correct weight of melted jewels, and what will they do with the precious, rare stones, including diamond and others? What will be the wastage percentage? On what basis the proceeds would be shared and in what proportion. The submission was made during the hearing of the two petitions filed against the practice. The judge asked the petitioners to file additional affidavits, if necessary, by 21 of this month.
TN HR and CE Minister Sekkar Babu threatened to take legal action against protestors objecting to the Government's move to melt temple gold ornaments. To this, TR Ramesh, president of Temple Worshippers Society, said in a tweet, " it was open threat that fight the HR and CE dept misfits. What else can you expect from @arivalayam # DMK? Govt that brazenly takes illegal and unethical steps to melt temple jewels and Gold?