Setback to ruling Cong in Karnataka as temple bill defeated in Legislative Council

09:24 AM Feb 24, 2024 | PTI |

In a setback to the ruling Congress in Karnataka, a bill that sought to collect funds from temples with over Rs 10 lakh annual income was defeated by the opposition BJP-JD(S) combine in the Legislative Council.


The Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024 was passed by the Legislative Assembly earlier this week.

It was defeated by a voice vote in the Upper House, where the opposition has a majority, on Friday.

The bill among other things, proposes to collect five per cent from temples whose gross income is between Rs 10 lakh and less than Rs one crore and 10 per cent from temples whose income is above Rs one 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 Rs five lakh.

The act that was earlier amended in 2011 had made way for five per cent of the net income of temples with annual income between Rs five lakh and Rs 10 lakh and 10 per cent of the net income of temples with annual income of over Rs 10 lakh would come to the fund.


The amendment bill had created a huge controversy, as it angered the opposition, especially the BJP, which charged the ruling Congress with trying to fill its ’empty coffers’ with temple money, while, the Congress had sought to turn the tables saying the saffron party had effected an amendment in 2011 to seek funds from high-income Hindu shrines.

Leader of the Opposition in Council Kota Srinivas Poojary, who was the Muzrai Minister during the BJP government, while welcoming the move to provide social security to Archakas, opposed diversion of the revenue earned by temples. He questioned why the government can’t provide funds in the budget for their welfare. The opposition also opposed the proposal in the bill for nomination of the temple committee president by the government. Muzrai Minister Ramalinga Reddy, trying to convince the opposition, assured the House that the government would not interfere in the nomination of the temple committee president and also to reduce the amount proposed to be diverted from the temples to the common pool.

Highlighting that the bill only proposes minor changes to what the BJP government had proposed in 2011, he said, the intention is the welfare of Archakas at ‘C’ category temples and the upkeep of such temples.

As the opposition insisted that changes be made to the bill before it is passed, Reddy sought time till Monday, as he needed to discuss it with the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as it involves financial implications. However, the Deputy Chairman M K Pranesh, who was in the Chair, did not give time till Monday stating that there is no such provision as the House has already taken up the bill for consideration.

The Bill was subsequently put to vote and it was defeated by the opposition BJP-JD(S) combine.

This is the second such setback to the Congress government in this session, as the BJP and JD(S) combine had referred the Karnataka Souharda Cooperative (Amendment) Bill 2024 to the select committee earlier this week.


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