The British wanted to control Hindu temples as sources of revenue and sadly this tradition continues even today. The country which is deemed ‘Secular’ does not see the need to get out of management of Hindu temples. State government see the temples purely as a source of revenue generation and giving almost nothing in return. The demand to free temples from government control is almost 7 decades old. However nothing much happened all these years as the governments did not want to lose a major source of their incomes even though it was in contravention of the constitution they adhere to.
The bill was introduced for the second time by Dr Satyapal Singh in Lok Sabha on 22nd November. He had first introduced the bill in 2017 which was kept pending. After tabling the bill, Dr Satyapal Singh addressing the media said that the rights of majority & minority communities must be equal and hence the bill. He further said that post-Independence care was taken by the constitution to allow the minorities to control their educational and religious institutions so that their fears are allayed. However, the Hindus were not extended the same treatment. Over the lat 7 decades, it has come to mean that the majority community cannot enjoy the same rights as the minorities. Hindus cannot manage their institutions, rules and regulations are imposed only on Hindu institutions. This is discrimination and hence my bill is introduced to ensure that everyone is equal before the eyes of law, he said.
The bill demands that the state shall not control, administer or manage any religious institution, shall not frame any law that allows it to control a religious institution, all communities should be allowed to maintain their religious institutions, disallow misappropriation of temples income in name of secular purposes and amend Article 26 and other articles, and prevent any state from usurping any religious institution.
Details of the bill
Dr. Satyapal Singh has introduced ‘THE CONSTITUTION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019’ in the winter session of the parliament now. The bill calls for the amendments to Articles 15, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30. The bill declares the following in its statement of objects and reasons:
“As per our Constitution, the State has no religion. The State has to treat all religions and religious people equally and with equal respect without, in any manner, interfering with their right to freedom of religion, faith and worship. As evident from the sub-text of the debates of the Constituent Assembly, the rights assured for the majority were only made explicit to the minorities as an assurance to the latter in the backdrop of the peculiar circumstances then prevailing in the aftermath of partition. In any case, it was never the intention of the makers of our Constitution to deny to the majority the rights expressly provided to the minority. Yet, it gradually led to interpretations that only the minorities were given rights withheld from the majority generating an unhealthy feeling of discrimination among the majority community. It goes without saying that nursing any real or perceived grievance against the State by any section of citizens, majority or minority, is detrimental to the unity and integrity of the country.”