Row over the Karnataka Temple Bill

  • The Karnataka government’s recent decision to modify the law governing the taxes of Hindu temples provoked heated debate and controversy.
  • It intends to revamp the current system, particularly in terms of revenue distribution and management. 

Proposed Changes to Temple Taxation

The Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024 sought to change many elements of the existing law:

  • Income Allocation: The proposed reform intended to shift 10% of the gross income of temples generating more than Rs 1 crore per year into a common pool for temple maintenance. Section 19 of the Act specifies how the common fund may be used, including religious study, temple maintenance, and charitable causes.
  • Modification in Calculation: This modification would deviate from the previous practice of allocating 10% of the net income of temples earning more than Rs 10 lakh annually.
  • Dedicated Common Pool: Additionally, 5% of the income of temples earning between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore per year would have been designated for the common pool.
  • Priests’ Welfare: The Congress government recommended using the additional monies to support lower-income temples, assist ailing priests, and provide scholarships to priests’ families.

Additional amendments proposed:

  • Committee of Management: The Bill recommended having a member with expertise in Vishwakarma Hindu temple building and sculpture on the temple management committee.
  • It gave the Rajya Dharmika Parishat the authority to choose the chairman of temple management committees.
  • Infrastructure Oversight: The Bill required the formation of district- and state-level high-level committees to oversee infrastructure projects that facilitate temple pilgrimages. 

Criticism and Opposition.

  • Interference in Religious Matters: BJP leaders accused the government of attempting to “rob” Hindu temples and questioned its selective targeting of Hindu organisations.
  • Questioning Motives: Concerns were raised about the government’s selective taxing of Hindu temples, raising questions about its objectives.

Comparison to Other States

  • Telangana’s Model: Similar to Karnataka, Telangana requires temple donations to a common good fund, which is used for temple maintenance and related expenses.
  • Kerala’s temples are managed by state-run Devaswom Boards, which each have their own budget and administrative laws and are monitored by government-appointed nominees. 

Issues with the Bill

  • Government Interference: The appointment of Hindu and other religious leaders to temple management committees raises worries about the state’s role in temple activities.
  • Contradiction to Secularism: Secularism is perceived to oppose the ideal of religious separation and state intervention in religious affairs.
  • Conflict with Autonomy: Opposition to diverting temple money to a common pool fund raises concerns about state interference with religious autonomy and financial mismanagement.


  • The Karnataka temple bill controversy highlights the intricate interplay between governance, religion, and finance.
  • While the suggested reforms attempted to improve temple infrastructure and assistance, they were rejected because to differences in interpretations and political alignments.
  • As states deal with temple administration, striking a balance between tradition, governance, and public welfare is a perennial problem. 

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