Origin of the Department
Instinct of piety and benevolence are implanted in human nature and therefore, it is noticed generally in all civilized countries there is an out look for the formation of religious and charitable institutions and trusts in some form or other depending upon the spiritual and moral ideas of the nation and societies. Even from the very early stages, the Hindu religious and Charitable acts were divided into two categories namely Istha and Purtha. The Istha act signifies the vedic sacrifices, rites and gifts connected with the same as detailed below:
The Purtha Act on the other hand enacts the other pious and charitable acts which are not connected with the vedic sacrifices as detailed below:
Gifts offered out side the sacrificial ground
Gifts on the occasion of the eclipse, solstice and other special occasions
Construction of works for the storage of water
Construction of temples for Gods
Establishment of Processions for the honor of God
Gifts of food
Relief of the sick
The concept of religion in the words of Dr.S.Radha Krishnan, the Philosopher, President of India which was quoted in famous Shirur Math’s case is “of specific attitude of self, itself no other, though it is mixed up generally with intellectual views, aesthetic forms and moral valuations, Religion is therefore absolutely a matter of faith with individuals or communities and it is not necessary theistic”
The concept of charity as can be seen from the acts of Purtha originated and contributed along with the concept of religious and presently the charitable purpose is in a compendious form and therefore it is very difficult to draw a line of declaration between the religious and charitable purposes and as both of them are blended together and at times they overlap each other and do not admit of any differentiation. Both of them are integral parts of dharma or rule of righteousness.
Therefore, even from the beginning, the people freely donated large extents of properties and munificent grants to the religious and charitable institutions, the beneficiaries of which are the public at large within the frame work and scheme as intended by the donors. Though, the Hindu scriptures repeatedly ordain for making donations, it may be stated that little are no procedure seems to have been laid down in the said texts for the administration of such religious and charitable institutions. However, the administration of these institutions for their proper up-keep and maintenance and for safeguarding their properties and also for the fulfillment of the objects for which they are intended or founded continued to be vested in the successive Governments and the first piece of legislation appeared in 1817 and subsequently several enactments followed and presently, the APC & HRI & E Act (Act 30/87) came into force on 28th May 87 repealing the Act 17 of 1966 and thus the department supplies the supervisory agency in administering the affairs of the institutions and Endowments.
Role of the Department
Hindu Public Religious Institutions and Endowments
The word “HINDU” has been defined in sub-section 30 of the section-2 of the Act in a comprehensive way. A person professing Buddhist, Jain or Sikh religion should be construed as “Hindu” and similarly any reference to Hindu Religious Institutions should be construed accordingly. The word temple has been defined in sub-section 27 of section 2 as a place of public worship used as of right by the Hindu community and word. “Religious Institution” has been defined under sub-section 23 of the section-2 with wide connotation whereby, any Math, Temple or specific Endowment, Brindavan, Samadhi or any other Institution established or maintained for religious purpose would be coming under the purview of the Act. Some of the temples which were declared as not coming within the purview of this Act, may also in course of time attain the character of public nature and they can be brought under the purview of the Act.
Functions of the Department
Custom, Usage and Code of Conduct
The Commissioner, Additional Commissioner, Regional Joint Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner and every other person exercising powers performing the functions under the Act should not interfere with and should observe the forms, usages, ceremonies and practices obtaining in and appropriate to the Religious Institutions and Endowments in respect of which such powers are exercised or functions are performed and in case of Mutt in his dealings with the Head of the Mutt. The Commissioner, Additional Commissioner, Regional Joint Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner having jurisdiction or any other person authorized by the Commissioner may with due regard to the Religious practices and usages of the Institutions inspect any Charitable or Religious Institutions or Endowments all movable and immovable property for the purpose of satisfying that the provisions of the Act & Rules there under are duly carried out. However, the person inspecting or authorized to inspect any Religious Institutions or place of worship should be a Hindu. The Commissioner, Additional Commissioner and Every Regional Joint Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner appointed under the Act should profess Hindu Religion and they would cease to exercise those functions when they cease to profess Hindu Religion.
Applicability of the ACT
This Act 30/87 applies to all public charitable and institutions and Endowments, whether registered or not under this Act, other than Wakfs governed by the Wakf Act 1954 (Central Act 29/54). As the exception is only in the case of Wakfs governed by the Wakf Act, all other public Charitable Institutions and Endowments belonging to any community excepting the community referred to in the Act 1954 (Central Act 1954) would come under the purview of this Act.
The Public Charitable Institutions and Endowments (not being governed by the Wakf Act 1954) which are being administered by any Department of Government or Civil Court, Zilla Parishad or Municipality or other local authority or any company, society organization, Institution or other person would also come within the purview of this Act 30/87.