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Temple bill defeated in Karnataka Council, minister says will try again on Monday

Bengaluru The controversial Hindu Religious and Temple Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024, was defeated in the Karnataka Legislative Council on Friday evening. During the voting, 18 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal (Secular) MLCs voted against the bill and seven only favoured it.

R Ramalinga Reddy (HT)

However, Muzrai department minister Ramalinga Reddy, who worked on the bill to benefit the interest of the poorer temples , remained undeterred by the defeat of the bill.

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“All is not lost. We will put it forth again in the Assembly on Monday,” he said while coming out of the Council. There were hardly any members in the treasury benches when the bill was put to vote at 8 pm, said those familiar with the development.

The bill seeks to help the 35,000 Hindu temples and their families with less income. It envisages increasing the burden revenue earning temples and passing the extra funds to temples with lesser income. The funds would be used to support the priests and their children for education and other needs.

But opposition leader in the Council, Kota Srinivasa Poojary said, the government needs to support the poorer temples with its own revenues and not out of the funds of the richer temples.

The bill mandates a 10% collection from temples with revenue exceeding 1 crore and 5% from temples with revenue between 10 lakh and 1 crore.

When the bill was piloted in the Legislative Assembly and passed, the opposition accused the government that the bill had been brought to shore up funds for the government’s guarantees schemes.

Leader of opposition in the House R Ashoka alleged that chief minister Siddaramaiah was “stealing from the collection boxes of the temples”. He said, government was looking to collect “10% commission from the income of the temples”.

There are around 35,000 temples under Muzrai department out of which 205, whose income exceeds 25 lakh per year are categorised in Group A, 193 with income between 5 lakh and 25 lakh are in Group B and around 34,000 temples with income below 5 lakh fall in Group C.

Unveiling ‘Elections 2024: The Big Picture’, a fresh segment in HT’s talk show ‘The Interview with Kumkum Chadha’, where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch Now!

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