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TOP STORIESMadras HC: Tamil Nadu can’t melt temple gold, must wait for trustees...

Madras HC: Tamil Nadu can’t melt temple gold, must wait for trustees | Chennai News

CHENNAI: In a setback to the state government’s plan to melt and monetise ‘unused’ gold donated to temples, the Madras high court on Thursday restrained the HR&CE department from deciding on the matter saying it should await for appointment of trustees to temples.
The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu, however, said the three-member judges committee appointed by the state government to monitor the process could proceed with carrying out inventory of gold and other materials donated to temples.
The court passed the order after it was contented that HR&CE commissioner could not suo motu decide on melting temple gold and such a proposal can come only from the trustees of the temples.
Two petitioners, M Saravanan and A V Gopala Krishnan, had challenged the decision to melt temple jewellery and deposit the gold in banks. Responding to the plea, advocate-general R Shunmugasundaram told the court that advertisements have been issued for appointing trustees to temples and the exercise would take four to six weeks to be completed. Pointing out that the state has already commenced the exercise of installing trustees at the temples, Shunmugasundaram said: “The work of carrying out the inventory of the offerings at the temples and the properties of the temples may continue, but the decision of whether or not to melt the jewellery which has been offered in the temples would be taken after the trustees are installed in the relevant temples.”
On October 12, the state informed the court that the scheme for melting gold jewellery donated to temples for monetisation is not new and it had been in existence since 1977. “So far, about 5 lakh grams of gold jewellery have been melted and deposited in various nationalised banks which is fetching around Rs 11 crore as interest,” the AG said.



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