New Delhi, Aug 23: The Supreme Court has begun a massive exercise in a bid to audit all religious places and charitable institutions with regard to accounts, assets, hygiene and access. The court directed the district magistrates to examine complaints in this regard and send reports to the respective High Courts so that they could be treated as PILs.
This order would apply to Temples, Mosques, Churches, other religious places and also charitable institutions. The court said that the reports which would be sent to the HCs would be treated as PILs so that suitable orders could be passed.
The court said that the difficulties faced by the visitors, deficiencies in management, maintaining hygiene, utilisation of offerings and protection of assets is not only a matter of consideration for the states, but for the courts as well.
The suo motu order was passed when the court was hearing a petition relating to the Puri Jagannath Temple. The Bench decided to expand the scope of the PIL to cover all shrines and charitable or religious institutions. The court permitted any devotee to move the district judge with a grievance about the management of visitors, conditions wealth and assets.
"We direct that if any devotee moves the jurisdictional district judge throughout India with any grievance on the above aspect, the district judge may either himself/herself, or by assigning the issue/matter to any other court under his/her jurisdiction, examine the above aspects and if necessary send a report to the high court. We have no doubt that the HC will consider these aspects in public interest in accordance with the law and issue such judicial directions as necessary having regard to individual factual situation," the SC said.
The order would now be applicable to the 20 lakh major Temples, 3 lakh Mosques and several thousand Churches.