K’taka Governor returns temple tax bill, seeks answers

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Bengaluru, March 21 (IANS) Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot has returned the controversial Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024 proposing tax for temples, and asked if the state government has any legislation to encompass other religious bodies.

The note from the Governor’s office stated, “it is directed to return the file to the State Government with a direction to re-submit the file with the clarifications”.

The letter sent to the government also stated that, “further, has the state government conceptualized any legislation to encompass other religious bodies in similar fashion as this bill?”

The Governor stated, “It is perused that the Karnataka Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1997 and amendments made in the year 2011 and 2012 have been struck down by the Hon’ble High Court Dharwad bench in Writ Application number 3440/2005. …It is informed that the said High Court decision has been challenged in the Hon’ble Supreme Court and Hon’ble Apex Court has stayed the High Court order and the case is in the stage of final hearing.”

“Since the case is still pending in the Supreme Court, it is necessary to get more clarification whether the amendment can be made during the pendency of the case, specifically when the entire act has already been struck down by the High Court and case in appeal is at the stage of final hearing,” the order by the Governor states.

The Congress government had passed the Bill in February in the Assembly and the council amid stiff opposition by the BJP. The Bill is meant to amend multiple provisions in the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997.

It is aimed to alter the taxation on Hindu temples, and proposes diverting 10 per cent of gross income from temples with over Rs one crore annual revenue to a common pool for their maintenance.

Previously, the allocation was 10 per cent of the net income for temples earning over Rs 10 lakh annually. Net income is calculated based on the profits of the temple after accounting for its expenses, whereas gross income simply refers to the total amount of money the temple makes.

The Bill also suggested allocating 5 per cent of income from temples earning between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore to the common pool. These changes would have generated an additional Rs 60 crore from 87 temples with incomes over Rs 1 crore and 311 temples with income exceeding Rs 10 lakh.



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