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G. Sudhakaran says the proposed law will effectively check corruption.
Thiruvananthapuram: Devaswom Minister G. Sudhakaran has alleged that attempts are being made to sabotage the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) referred for Presidential assent seeking to increase the number of members on the TDB from three to seven.
Replying to the debate on the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill in the Assembly on Tuesday, the Minister said he knew who those people were. Mr. Sudhakaran said he had insisted on sending the Bill for Presidential assent even though he had received advice from legal luminaries that he was not bound to do so. He had written to the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister and the Union Defence Minister seeking their intervention. However, the vested interests had unconstitutionally intervened and blocked its passage, he alleged.
He maintained that increasing the number of members on the board would be an effective check on corruption and other malpractices.
Referring to the amendment Bill, he said it was almost a new legislation for all practical purposes, but the original name had been retained because of the presence of trustees in the administration of temples in Malabar. He did not want this important and landmark piece of legislation to get caught in a legal tangle.
The amendment Bill sought to ensure reservation for women, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes not only on the newly constituted Malabar Devaswom Board (MDB), but also on the area committees entrusted with the task of overseeing administration of temples. The new board had nine members and there was no basis for the Opposition charge on their qualifications. Directions had been issued to the MDB to submit a report within three months seeking to revise the pay scales of temple employees. The Bill would not take away the powers of the trustees in administration, but would bring them under the board’s control.
The amendment Bill was introduced in the House to replace an ordinance. The Bill, once passed, would end decade-old attempts to set up a board for temple administration in Malabar, following the High Court verdict in 1994. Earlier, the Opposition tried to put a number of roadblocks on the ground that the government had brought in an amendment Bill even though an original Bill was non-existent. The Opposition members K.M. Mani, K.C. Venugopal, V.D. Satheesan, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan and K.C. Joseph participated in the discussion. The ruling front fielded P. Jayaraj for the discussion. The Bill was later referred to the Subject Committee.
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