Another temple may go out of Muzrai control

Another temple may go out of Muzrai control

Another temple may go out of Muzrai control

After the Gokarna temple, it appears to be the turn of the centuries-old Sri Janardhana and Mahakali temple of Ambalpady, Udupi, to go out of the hands of the government. In case of Gokarna temple, the government handed over the temple which was under the Muzrai Department’s purview to Sri Ramachandrapura Mutt. The Ambalpady temple is managed by the Muzrai Department. The BJP government is inclined to pass it on to the hereditary trustee of the temple, official sources said.

Some months ago, the then Muzrai secretary had written to the Chief Minister requesting the government not to denotify the temple, sources said. Handing over the temple would be against the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1997, he had pointed out.

A temple, if it is attached to a mutt or a denomination (religious group), could be exempted from the purview of the Act. But a temple cannot be transferred just because a community requests or demands it.

In case of Ambalpady temple, a Shivalli brahmin’s family which is the hereditary trustee, has requested the government to handover the temple to it. A case pertaining to this is pending in court. “The temple is not falling under the denomination category. Shivalli is a sub-sect under brahmins. The government denotified the Gokarna temple against the recommendation of the Muzrai temple and now it is under litigation. Officers are facing a contempt case,” the official said.

“The question is not whether this particular temple should be denotified or not. It is about the policy the government should adopt. How far is it is correct to hand over a muzrai temple, where public donations are accepted, to an individual or a family or an organisation?” the officer asked.

Muzrai Minister V S Acharya said there were instances of handing over muzrai temples to communities such as Goud Saraswats, Idigas, Koota Mahajagat and Shivallis because they had their own tradition of running temples.

The application of the hereditary trustees of the Ambalpady temple is pending with the government. “If law permits, definitely it can be given to the trustees. The application reached the government when elections were due. So, it was not processed. We will go by the suggestion of the advocate-general,” Acharya said.

Advocate-General Ashok Haranahalli said, “I have suggested to the government to go by the merits of the case. I have also said it is for the government to take a decision.”

Law department officials, however, said some muzrai temples earned crores in income as well as temples which have just double digit income. “Temples which have more income are taking care of the expenditure of temples which have meagre income. If ‘rich’ temples go to private hands, then how does the government manage the ‘poor’ temples? Also, temples getting identified with a particular caste is not good.”

The Ambalpady temple, according to the sources in the temple, earns revenue of not less than Rs two crore a year. Located on 3.5 acres of its land, it is said to be five centuries old.