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The State government on Tuesday told the Madras High Court that the practice of melting temple gold jewellery was not new and that it has been in vogue since 1977. The court was also told that so far 5 lakh kg of jewellery had been melted and deposited in banks.

Appearing before a Division Bench of Justices R. Mahadevan and Abdul Quddhose, Advocate General R. Shunmugasundaram said the government had on September 9 constituted three panels to oversee the work.

The submissions were made during the hearing of two public interest litigation petitions filed against the practice. The judges asked the petitioners to file additional affidavits, if necessary, by October 21.