Temple Bill passed in Karnataka Assembly again after its defeat in Legislative Council

The Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024, will now be sent to the Governor for his assent.

ByPTI

Published Feb 29, 2024 | 6:06 PMUpdatedFeb 29, 2024 | 6:06 PM

Siddaramaiah speaking in the Karnataka Assembly. (File pic)

A Bill that sought to collect funds from temples with over ₹10 lakh annual income was taken up for reconsideration and passed by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly once again on Thursday, 29 February.

The Bill was defeated by the Opposition BJP-JD(S) combine in the Legislative Council last week.

The Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024, will now be sent to the Governor directly for his assent, following which it will become law.

The Bill was defeated by a voice vote in the Upper House, where the Opposition has a majority, on 23 February, after it was passed by the Assembly on 21 February.

Also Read: Karnataka CM accuses BJP of spreading misinformation on Temple Bill

Passed by voice vote

Piloting the Bill in the Assembly on Thursday, Muzrai Minister Ramalinga Reddy said, “The Bill was passed by the Assembly earlier, but was defeated in the council, I request the Assembly to once again pass the Bill.”

Speaker UT Khader then put the Bill for a vote and it was passed by a voice vote.

“Muzrai” refers to grants made by the government for religious and charitable purposes as well as the upkeep of religious and charitable institutions, according to the Karnataka Government Gazetteer.

The Department of Religious and Charitable Endowments is, hence, popularly known as the Muzrai Department. It administers about 35,000 Hindu religious institutions which receive grants from the Government of Karnataka

Opposition BJP and JD(S) were not present in the Assembly when the Bill was passed on Thursday, as they had staged a walkout earlier in the day, demanding the Congress government’s resignation for its “inaction” in nabbing the culprits who allegedly shouted the “Pakistan Zindabad” slogans, after Congress member Syed Naseer Hussain was declared elected to the Rajya Sabha.

Also Read: BJP demands dismissal of Karnataka government over sloganeering 

Earlier controversy

The Muzrai Department’s amendment Bill had created a huge controversy, as it angered the Opposition, especially the BJP, which has claimed that the ruling Congress was trying to fill its “empty coffers” with temple money.

The Congress then sought to turn the tables on the saffron party, pointing out that it had effected an amendment in 2011 to seek funds from high-income Hindu shrines.

The Bill among other things, proposes to collect five percent from temples whose gross income is between ₹10 lakh and less than ₹1 crore and 10 percent from temples whose income is above ₹1 crore, to be put into a Common Pool Fund, administered by “Rajya Dharmika Parishath”, which is proposed to be used for Archakas’ (priests) welfare and upkeep of ‘C’ category temples (state-controlled) whose annual income is less than ₹5 lakh.

The Act that was earlier amended in 2011 had made way for five percent of the net income of temples with annual income between ₹5 lakh and ₹10 lakh and 10 percent of the net income of temples with an annual income of over ₹10 lakh to come into the fund.

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