Karnataka government clears bill to tax temples

Why all governments target only Hindu temples for taking them over or making money from them? Hindus need to wake up and unite against these practices to compel governments to hand over temples to Hindu devotees! – Editor, Hindujagruti

The Karnataka government on Wednesday passed the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment (Amendment) bill in the Assembly. The bill mandates that the government will collect 10 per cent of the income of temples that have revenue of more than Rs 1 crore.

The new amendment also proposes a Common Pool Fund under Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Department for aiding religious activities in Karnataka.

Muzrai minister Ramalinga Reddy who introduced the amendment in the Assembly said that the fund will be used to provide various amenities to temples, insurance cover and death relief fund for archaks (temple priests), and scholarships to children from families of around 40,000 archaks.

This has drawn fire from the Opposition BJP. The saffron party intensified its attack against the Bill as it is expected to be tabled in the Legislative Council, where coalition partners BJP and JD(S) enjoy a majority.

What is the bill?

There are around 35,000 temples under the Muzrai Department, of which 205 whose income exceeds Rs 25 lakh per year are categorised as Group A, 193 with incomes between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 25 lakh are Group B and around 34,000 temples with incomes below 5 lakh are Group C.

Till date, Group A temples contributed 10 per cent of the revenue generated from collection boxes to a Central Fund and Group B contributed five per cent. There were no contributions from Group C temples.

As per the amendment, temples with incomes above Rs 1 crore will have to contribute 10 per cent to the Common Pool Fund, and temples generating Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore revenue should chip in five per cent to the fund. Temples with incomes below Rs 10 lakh will not have to contribute at all, according to the Muzrai minister.

The funds will be under Rajya Dharmika Parishat and will be used to grant aid primarily to Category C temples apart from providing welfare measures to families of archaks and other employees at these temples, he said.

The state high-level committee and district high-level committees were also formed to review and submit proposals for amenities at Group A temples.

The Bill was passed without much Opposition in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

Controversy over the Bill

The BJP targeted the Congress-led Karnataka government over this bill, alleging that the state government is involved in “anti-Hindu policies” and there is bound to be misuse of the funds.

BJP’s Karnataka unit president Vijayendra Yediyurappa, in a post on X, said that the Congress government was trying to fill its “empty coffers” through this bill. The BJP leader further asked why the state government was only collecting revenue from Hindu temples and not other religious structures.

“The question on the minds of millions of devotees is why only Hindu temples are being eyed and not the income of other religious places,” he wrote on X.

Karnataka’s transport minister and Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy dismissed the BJP’s accusations, saying, “The government isn’t taking the money, it will be used for ‘dharmic parishad’ purposes.”

Source: Financial Express

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