In a clear usurpation of Hindus’ religious and constitutional rights, the Tamil Nadu government is reportedly melting the gold donated by Bhakts for their Bhagwans. The government has already completed about 25 per cent of its set target and has melted more than 500 kg of gold till now.
Melting of Gold – A contentious order by the Stalin government
While claiming that the melting of gold by the state government has been going on for 44 years, R Shanmugasundaram, the Advocate General of Tamil Nadu told the division bench comprising Justices R Mahadevan and Abdul Quddhose-“About 500 kg of gold has been melted into bars so far, and deposited at banks. This has earned Rs 11 crore through interest”.
Court tussle going on between devotees and state government
A petition has been filed in Madras High Court by two petitioners namely, M Saravanan and A V Gopala to stop the melting of Gold ornaments by Tamil Nadu’s state government. The petitioners have challenged the process on the basis of the trust rules, Article 300A of the constitution, and the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act.
Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan while representing the petitioners apprised the court about the rules 11 and 13 of the jewels rule of the temple. Rule 11 and rule 13 when read simultaneously provide that only a trustee can order to repair, melt, or alter the size of the donated Gold. The advocate also contended that the deprivation of precious temple property is a violation of the constitutional right to property under Article 300-A of the Constitution. Reading out the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act along with the constitution of India, Gopal told the court, “There is no such provision in the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act. Therefore, there is a constitutional prohibition against melting jewelry donated to temples.”
No evidence of melting of Gold in last 44 years
Countering the government’s statement about the melting of gold going on for 44 years, the petitioners urged, “Nearly 2,000 kg of gold ornaments, which were offered by devotees in the last 10 years, were stocked in bundles and remaining utilised as these years. If the procedure of monetising the small jewels was followed all these years, it would have generated revenue to the temple and also brought the property under the department’s record.”
Secular state interfering in Hindus’ affairs
Citing H&R CE minister P Shekhar Babu’s statement about 38,000 temples having more than Rs 10,000 Crores worth of gold, the petitioners pointed out that a secular state was trying to interfere in Hindus’ religious practices. The counsel argued, “That (Gold) is going to be melted by a so-called secular state. When these jewelry and ornaments belong to temples, the State has no authority… to touch it.” They also told the court that there was no transparency being followed in the process of melting gold.
The state government, however, tried its best to quell the controversy around the issue. The government informed the court about the appointment of zonal committees to monitor the melting of the ornaments. A committee comprising of one retired judge of the Supreme Court, Justice D Raju, and two retired judges of the Madras High Court, Justice K Ravichandrabaabu and Justice R Mala have been formed for the purpose.
Stalin uses Hindus’ for his atheistic adventurism
In the month of September 2021, the M K Stalin government in Tamil Nadu had issued a controversial order to melt Gold ornaments donated to the Mandirs. According to the set target, a total of 2,137kg of Gold will be melted. The order had come off as a surprise as the chief minister M K Stalin has declared himself as an atheist and atheism denies the existence of God. Despite propagating atheism, the government had no hesitancy in interfering in the personal affairs of Sanatan Dharma.
Violation of Article-26
The government order also seems to have violated Article 26 of the constitution of India. The article provides for the government’s interference in mandir issues only when the devotees of the mandir administration violate public order, morality, and health of citizens. But, neither the mandir, devotees, nor the administration did anything, which warranted the government to interfere in its affairs.
Tamil Nadu government’s order is a testament to the secularism followed in India. While the institutions claiming themselves to be secular do not dare to touch the practices of other religions like Islam and Christianity, there have been instances of Hindus’ money being used by state governments to fund other religions’ practices. This order again proves that the much-touted secularism in India is just a sham to impose moral authority on Hindus.