The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday directed to the State Government to file a reply within two weeks on the petition filed by Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy against the Act to take over 51 temples including Badrinath and Kedarnath temples. The next hearing of the case is posted for June 11 and Swamy’s lawyer Manisha Bhandari also objected to an intervention application filed by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) supporting the controversial Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act of 2019.
Swamy’s lawyers pointed out that as the intervening application filed by the NGO simply supports the Government’s decision and Government is represented by none other than the Advocate General and a battery of lawyers and hence there is no need of such intervening applications. The NGO known as RLEK headed Avdhash Kaushal said that the Act is totally legal and adhering to the secular principles of India. Many Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and BJP leaders said that Kaushal is a Left-parties and Congress-sponsored retired academician. They said that Kaushal had in the past done many hate campaigns against the RSS’ works in education and tribal welfare activities.
Swamy’s lawyer Manisha Bhandari appearing before the Bench headed by Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Ramesh Chandra Khulbe pointed out that the State Government has not yet filed a reply though the notice was issued on February 25. Judges directed the Advocate General to reply within two weeks by next hearing on June 11. Swamy said that he file an objection to the NGO’s intervening application which has no merit.
The controversial Act passed by the BJP-ruled State Government in 2019, intending to take control of more than 51 temples related to the Char Dham circuit has already invited severe criticism from the Sangh Parivar organizations. This Act enables the Government to take control of the temples currently by priests, local trusts and the new Act say MPs, MLAs, and representatives appointed by the State Government will run the temples. As per the Act, the head of the Devasthanam Board will be the State Chief Minister, and many Government officials are placed in the administration. The Act says, if the Chief Minister is not a Hindu, the senior-most Hindu Minister will be the head of the Board.
On Wednesday, Swamy in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged to direct the Uttarakhand Chief Minister to withdraw the controversial act, which took over 51 temples. Terming the takeover of temples as illegal, Swamy told Modi that the 51 temples take over by the State Government is an embarrassment to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideology.
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