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Tuesday, August 15, 2006  
Supreme Court stays ordinance on appointment of archakas in temples

The Hindu
15 August 2006

J. Venkatesan

Says it is a serious matter as several principles have to be laid down

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a provision in the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2006 providing for appointment of archakas in temples without discrimination of caste, creed and custom or usage.
A three-Judge Bench comprising the Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Justice C.K. Thakker and Justice Markendey Katju passed the order of interim stay of Clause 8 of the ordinance promulgated by the Governor on July 14.

The relevant clause was challenged in a batch of petitions by Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Sangam; Thennindia Thirukkoil Archagargal Paripalana Sabhai and others contending that it was unconstitutional.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel, K. Parasaran said that since the amendment provided for appointment of archakas irrespective of caste or creed or race, even those who followed Buddhism or Sikhism could be appointed as these two religions were said to be the offshoot of Hinduism.

He said such a provision offended Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution (right to freedom of religion) and violated the Agama sastras, custom and usage. He pleaded for stay of the impugned provision, as it would disturb the three-decade-old practice. Appearing for Tamil Nadu, Additional Solicitor General, R. Mohan opposed stay of the impugned clause. The Government appointed a high-power committee to go into the matter and it was yet to submit its report.

There were about 35,000 temples in the State and it would be difficult to enquire whether Agama sastras were violated in each and every temple. The Bench, however, told the ASG that "it is a serious matter which requires consideration by this court as several principles have to be laid down."

The Bench while staying Clause 8 , issued notice to the State seeking its response in six weeks and rejoinder if any in two weeks thereafter.

Seshammal case
The petitioners contended that the ordinance purporting to be a step towards social reform had the effect of reversing the settled law declared by the Supreme Court in Seshammal case. The amendment would enable appointment of archakas even though they did not have the qualifications prescribed by the Agamas.

Link to the article

7:16 AM

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