iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Jalandhar, May 12, 2013
Acting on the complaint of a Right to Information (RTI) activist, Election Commission (EC) has ordered probe into the allegation that Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is running its district office from a temple, which is illegal as per the EC norms. EC has written to the deputy commissioner, who is also district electoral officer to conduct a probe into the allegation of BJP's running its party office from the premises of Sheetla Mata Temple in Mai Heera Gate area, sources told HT.

A local Congress leader and RTI activist Sanjay Sehgal in his complaint to EC alleged that the BJP was running its office from a religious place which is illegal as per the EC norms.

With an order of Inquiry, EC had also sent the relevant provisions of the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act 1988 which prohibits any political activity to use any religious premises and provides imprisonment till five years in case of violation of the law.

The EC had also sent a copy of a letter it wrote to chief electoral officers of all states on July 27, 2012 citing sections 3, 5 and 6 of the Religious Institutions Act and asking them to ensure that violations were dealt with firmly.

When contacted, district president of BJP, Subhash Sood denied that the premises in which the BJP office is situated is part of the temple.

"Yes, main entrance of temple and BJP office is same, but the premises in which office is situated is not part of the temple", Sood told HT adding that the office has been running in the same premises since 1962.

Meanwhile, Section 5 of the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act 1988 states, "No religious institution of manager thereof shall use or allow the use of any funds or other properties belonging to, or under the control of, the institution for the benefit of any political party or for the purpose of any political activity or for the commission of any act which is punishable as an offence under the law".