Chennai, Oct 28( BPNS)
The Madras High Court on Thursday flagged the ambitious programme of the state Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) department to melt temple gold and deposit them in banks. The HR&CE department was planning to get huge money as interest by depositing these gold bars in banks.
The order was passed by the Madras HC on petitions filed by Saravanan and Gopalkrishnan who pleaded in the court to quash the government order of the HR&CE department on September 9 to monetize temple gold by converting them into bars.
The first bench of the Madras High Court comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Adikesavalu ordered that temple gold cannot be melted without the approval of stamp from the trustees.
The court also ordered a three-member committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to complete the inspection of inventories in these temples.
It may be noted that the HR&CE had earlier planned to melt 2137 kg of unused gold ornaments received in temples as devotees donation to gold bars and deposit them in nationalized banks. The interest accrued will be used for renovation and maintenance of temples.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin had launched the programme of melting unused temple gold ornaments into 24-carat gold bars on October 13, 2021. The right-wing organizations had stoutly opposed the decision of the state government to melt the unused temple ornaments into gold bars. The DMK government had however maintained that since 1977 this was in practice and that 500 kg of temple ornaments were melted and deposited in banks earning an interest of Rs 11 crore.
However, the order of the Madras High Court is a rebuttal to the M.K. Stalin government and it is to be seen whether the state government would go for an appeal in Supreme Court.