Temples bound by Mahajani and Devasthan Acts; income and expenditure monitored and scrutinised by administrator of temple who is taluka Executive Magistrate
MARGAO: Major temples of South Goa have not received any Income Tax notices on their money declaration. Most temples don’t fall under the Income Tax purview and have not been filing Income Tax returns. However, the temples are bound by Mahajani and Devasthan Acts and whose income and expenditure is monitored and scrutinised by the administrator of temple who is the Executive Magistrate of the taluka.
Herald spoke to the committees of temples who said that most are them are registered as Temple Trusts and some are institutes. The President of the Zambaulim Devasthan Trust, Prakash Kunde said, “The Devasthan Act was made and was in power since Portuguese time and the same doesn’t apply to churches.” However, the Zambaulim Devasthan of the Lord Damodar, the biggest and richest temple trust of Goa, has been filing Income Tax returns for several years.
Kunde added that donation boxes and funds received by temples are opened by the Executive Magistrate. “We have a system where we have meetings and budget is prepared and all the minutes of the meetings are submitted to the magistrate leaving no room for misappropriation,” Kunde said.
President of the Chandreshwar Bhutnath temple Harshad Gauns Dessai said that temples have also been filing balance sheets and income and expense statements and handing them to the committee and the Magistrate for scrutiny. “Temples if they wish they can file I-T returns but it is not compulsory to do so as per the Mahajani Act,” Dessai said.
“The temple committees of trusts and institutes are bound by the administrator of temple who is the mamlatdar and if at all a notice is sent then it has to come to the mamlatdar,” he added. “For churches it is completely religious heads and control but for temples we have an administrator overlooking the entire process,” Dessai said.
He added that the Chandreshwar Bhutnath temple was asked for a statement of the last five years by the Income Tax department some months ago.
Herald Correspondent from Cuncolim adds: Meanwhile, the Fatorpa temple committee has informed Herald that they are a trust which is under the Devasthan Act and has not received any income tax notice till date. They also told that they are not required to file I-T returns separately. The Devasthan Act exempts the temples from the I-T assessment but there are temples that have been voluntarily filing I-T returns.