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Homechevron_rightIndiachevron_rightKarnataka passes bill...

Karnataka passes bill to tax temples earning over ₹ 10 lakh annually

Karnataka passes bill to tax temples earning over ₹ 10 lakh annually

Aaj Tak photo.

Bengaluru: The Karnataka assembly on Thursday passed a bill that intends to collect funds from temples with over ₹ 10 lakh annual income. The bill was opposed by the opposition led by the BJP last week but got passed on the day after it was taken up for reconsideration, PTI reported.

The Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2024, will now be sent to the governor for his assent, following which it will become law.

The bill was defeated by a voice vote on February 23 in the upper house, where the opposition had a majority after it was passed by the assembly on February 21.

After the bill was reconsidered and passed by the legislative assembly once again today, it was sent to the legislative council, where too it got passed, a senior official from the lower house said.

The council passed the bill it had rejected last week amidst a din, as opposition BJP and JD(S) members protested in the house against the government over the alleged pro-Pakistan slogans chanted in the assembly.

Piloting the bill in the assembly on Thursday, Muzrai Minister Ramalinga Reddy said: "The bill was passed by the assembly earlier but was defeated in the council. I request the assembly to once again pass the bill." Speaker U T Khader then put the bill for vote and it was passed by a voice vote.

'Muzrai' refers to grants made by the government for religious and charitable purposes as well as the upkeep of religious and charitable institutions, according to the Karnataka Government Gazetteer. The Department of Religious and Charitable Endowments is, hence, popularly known as the Muzrai department. It administers about 35,000 Hindu religious institutions that receive grants from the Government of Karnataka. The Opposition BJP and the JD(S) were not present in the assembly when the bill was passed on Thursday, as they had staged a walkout earlier in the day, demanding the Congress government's resignation for its "inaction" in nabbing the culprits who allegedly shouted the 'Pakistan zindabad' slogans after Congress member Syed Naseer Hussain was declared elected to the Rajya Sabha.

The Muzrai department's amendment bill had created a huge controversy, as it angered the opposition, especially the BJP, which claimed that the Congress government was trying to fill its "empty coffers" with temple money.

The Congress then sought to turn the tables on the saffron party, pointing out that it had effected an amendment in 2011 to seek funds from high-income Hindu shrines.

The bill, among other things, proposes to collect five per cent from temples whose gross income is between ₹ 10 lakh and less than ₹ one crore and 10 per cent from temples whose income is above ₹ one crore to be put into a Common Pool Fund administered by 'Rajya Dharmika Parishath'.

The Common Poll Fund is proposed to be used for the welfare of archakas' (priests) and the upkeep of 'C' category temples (state controlled) whose annual income is less than ₹ five lakh.

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