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In an order passed today, the Karnataka High Court has directed the State government to place on record the exact number of 'C category temples' that have received Rupees 12,000 so far, amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The direction came in a plea seeking financial assistance for Temple workers and Archaks of "C category" Temples amid the corona virus pandemic.
During the hearing, the AAG Dhyan Chinnappa informed a bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty that, as per the latest MHA orders, all temples and religious places are to be opened from June 8.
Further, he apprised the Court that about 90% of the temples have already received a grant of Rupees 12,000 each from the government.
Taking note of this, the Court asked, "Has the state government taken the decision to re-open temples?"
Chinnappa responded by saying that the decision would be taken in a few days.
At this point, petitioner Advocate Shreehari Kutsa says, that he does now know the basis of AG's information pertaining to most of temples receiving the government grant of Rs. 12,000.
Adding on, he stated that more than half of the Archaks are yet to be provided with ration kits.
When asked on the number of food kits provided by the government to Archaks, Chinnappa replied that about 18,347 kits have been provided till now out of 34,200 Archaks present in 'C category' temples in the State.
The reason for the above was that most of the Archaks have other incomes. For those who don't have other sources of income, the ration kits have been provided, Chinnappa contended.
However, Kutsa expressed his doubts on the same. The Court proceeded to ask,
Karnataka High Court
The Bench went on to observe that, there is a difference between Migrant workers and Archaks and that the Court "cannot assume" that all Archaks are in need of food kits. Adding on, the Court directed the Petitioner Union to file an affidavit stating that it has spoken to all the 34,200 C category Temple Archaks in the State.
As the hearing wrapped up, the Court further observed that once the temples reopen, most likely, there would be a rush of people and this will be positive for the Archaks as far as monetary assistance is concerned.
The matter has been next posted for June 10.
Last week, the Karnataka High Court had directed the state government to consider extending financial assistance to Archakas (priests) who cannot be paid a regular salary as temples remain shut owing to the COVID-19 Lockdown.
During the hearing, Kutsa had informed that Court he was appearing as party in person (first petitioner) and as an advocate for the petitioner Union (second petitioner).
Expressing its shock, the Court asked, "Is that not professional misconduct?" Adding on, the Bench said, "You have to take a call, we are not here to advise you."