In a big victory to the ‘Free Temples from Government Control’ movement, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday stripped the powers of the Executive Officer of the famous Palani Temple and ordered the formation of a Trust by devotees to control the affairs of the temple. The case was filed by noted activist T R Ramesh, President of Indic Collective. Ramesh petitioned against the Executive Officer, an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer who ordered for inviting tenders for the housekeeping contracts for Palani Temple (Arulmighu Dhandayuthapani Swami Temple).
Ramesh represented by Adv S Parthasarathy argued that devotees are offering voluntary services to clean the temple and its maintenance. Inviting tender for housekeeping is a commercial contract which prevents the rights of devotees offer voluntary service, which is popularly known as “Uzhavara pani”. The full 22-page Judgment is published below this article.
The State Government as well as the controlling authorities will take all possible steps to ensure that the board of trustees is constituted for the second respondent temple as early as possible.
Welcoming the judgment, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said:
My associate T.R. Ramesh a former Citibank official and fighter for freedom of Hindu Temples.Just today he has got a magnificent judgment from the Madurai Bench of the Madras HC which lays the foundation for getting all Hindu temples freed from bureaucratic and political control.
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) September 23, 2020
“When the interests of the temple are involved, this Court cannot adopt a technical approach. Nor will it look the other way. It is the duty of this Court to ensure that the administration of the second respondent temple is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Act 22 of 1959 and the Rules framed thereunder. The tender notification has been issued by an official who is standing on this ice. Its tenuous nature has already been set out. In any event, a Fit Person cannot issue a notification of this nature. I, therefore, sustain the stand of the petitioner and quash the impugned tender notification.
“I cannot stop with that. Certain consequential directions have to be issued. The State Government as well as the controlling authorities will take all possible steps to ensure that the board of trustees is constituted for the second respondent temple as early as possible. Referring to certain disturbing developments in the State of Andhra Pradesh, today’s editorial in the New Indian Express says thus:
“…Reconstituting temple trust boards with eminent Hindus and men of impeccable character would
be a good start. Leaving the temples in the care of the bureaucracy and politicians hasn’t helped…”
These words are equally relevant to the State of Tamil Nadu,” said the Order delivered by Justice G.R. Swaminathan for the creation of Trust consisting devotees to manage the affairs of the Palani Temple.
The full Judgment is published below: