The Bihar government has directed administrative heads of 21 districts to appoint nodal officers to manage the functioning of 1,958 unregistered temples in the wake of “large-scale irregularities” over transactions of assets by priests. Instructions have also been issued to furnish revenue records of 2,973 acres of land, worth several crores, belonging to these temples.
“The decision has been taken to protect the properties... from unauthorised claims as large-scale irregularities have been found with priests of such temples/mutts selling and buying immovable assets by becoming owners,” Bihar Law Minister Pramod Kumar told PTI. It has been seen that caretakers are “selling” properties donated by “our forefathers for temples”, he said.
“We want to strengthen the law to protect religious properties so that they are maintained better and used for social causes,” the minister added.
After the appointment of the nodal officers, who will be additional collector rank bureaucrats, these unregistered temples will function under the direct supervision of the Bihar State Religious Trust Council (BSRTC).
As per the Bihar Hindu Religious Trusts Act, 1950, all public temples in the state must be registered with the BSRTC. The state government might also consider opening schools and hospitals on the premises of the temples after scrutinising revenue records, Kumar said.
“We have so far received details about such temples from the Collectors of 21 districts... As per the data received, the maximum number of unregistered temples/mutts are in Vaishali (438), followed by Kaimur (307) and West Champaran (273). Aurangabad is the only district where there is not even a single unregistered temple,” the minister said.
With PTI inputs.