The Madras High Court bench here on Friday directed the joint commissioners of all districts in Tamil Nadu to issue a notification on the appointment of the board of trustees in the temples under the control of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department.
Justices K K Sasidharan and P D Audikesavalu issued the directive while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Gandhi Mathi Nathan, alleging lack of transparency in the maintenance and security of the temples and their renovation.
The petitioner has submitted that a large number of temples are controlled by the HR&CE department.
The temples were normally managed by a board of trustees and the executive officer. The board and the officials took care of the maintenance and security of the shrines and created the basic infrastructure at these places, he said.
However, in Tamil Nadu, there had been no board of trustees for the last five years. Even the hereditary trustees were appointed only towards the end of their tenure in some big temples
Only a temple “Fit-Person” (thakkar) was tasked with the responsibilities and activities of the board, the petitioner has said.
This led to irregularities and corruption, he alleged and said the non-existence of the board had also led to incidents such as the fire in the Meenakshi temple in Madurai and the wall collapse in the Murugan temple in Tiruchendur.
Had there been a board, such incidents would not have taken place, as it would have taken measures for the safety, security and maintenance of the places of worship.
Hence, a board of trustees should be formed and it could comprise women and members of the Scheduled Caste community, among others, the petitioner said.