CHENNAI: In a setback to the Tamil Nadu government, in its endeavour to open new colleges out of the reserve funds of temples vested with the Hindu Religious and Charitable department (HR and CE), the Madras high court on Monday restrained the state from doing so.
The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu made it clear that such funds cannot be used for opening colleges till trustees are installed for all the temples under HR and CE as mandated by the HE and CE Act.
As per the act, the proposals to utilise such reserve funds for any purpose must come from the trustees of the temple concerned. Without such a proposal, the state cannot use the funds.
The court, however, permitted the state to establish four colleges in Chennai, Namakkal, Dindigul, and Tuticorin as the works to open the colleges are complete and admission of students are in process.
Apart from the four colleges the other proposed colleges will not be set up and no steps in such regard should be taken without the express previous leave of this court, the bench said. “It is also noticed that at the four colleges which are now ready to open, B.B.A., B.Com. and other similar courses have been offered, without there being any regular course in religious instructions in Hindu religion,” the judges said.
They added that it will be a condition precedent to the four colleges opening that a stream of religious instructions in Hindu religion be introduced. If such a course is not introduced within a month of the college starting, the further functioning of the college cannot continue.
“It must be appreciated that however pious the intention may be to use perceived surplus funds for the purpose of education, these funds are out of offerings for a particular cause and, ordinarily, the cause must not be forgotten and the same must be espoused with a part of the funds, even though the larger sphere of education may also be addressed,” the court said.
The court also made it clear that the functioning of the exempted four colleges will be subject to the outcome of the plea.
The court passed the interim order on a PIL T R Ramesh. According to the petitioner, merely because a policy statement was made on the floor of the assembly by a minister in the present government, the government has gone ahead with the proposal to divert funds from temples under the control of the HR and CE.