The Himachal Pradesh High Court today directed all deputy commissioners to file affidavits about utilisation of income generated by temples under their jurisdiction in the last five years.
The deputy commissioners are commissioners of state-run temples.
The petitioner said while visiting various temples in the state, he noticed that a large number of devotees visiting these shrines donated liberally. However, the temples did not have facilities commensurate with the donations received.
He said the funds are being wasted. They are not being utilised for propagation of Hindu religion, establishment and maintenance of educational institutions, nor for training students or pujaris.
The petitioner prayed that directions be issued for utilisation of the funds as per the provisions of Himachal Pradesh Hindu Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1984.
The court observed that official data showed that an income of Rs 361.43 had been generated from 12 temples alone in the last 10 years.
Pilgrims, especially from the adjoining state of Punjab, come in large numbers to pay obeisance and make cash offerings at Chintpuri, Jwalaji, Kangra, Naina Devi and other temples in Himachal Pradesh every year, it observed.
The bench also directed the commissioners to inform the court on various issues, such as amount spent for maintenance and upkeep of the sanctum sanctorum, the mechanism adopted for safekeeping of the offerings of devotees and action taken to remove encroachments from the temple premises.
The court also directed the chief secretary to file an affidavit and explore the possibility of the institutions, having own demarcated area, for housing deserted and stray animals and for planting different varieties of fruits or other vegetative growth.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on August 13.
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