The Uttarakhand High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled State Government on the petition filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy against the Act passed by the Government to take over the temples. Apart from seeking a reply from the State Government, the High Court also sent a notice to the Government for Swamy’s petition on the immediate stay on the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act of 2019.
This Act passed by the BJP-ruled State Government in 2019, intending to take control of more than 50 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, senior-most Hindu Minister will be the head of the Board.
Subramanian Swamy who reached Nainital on Tuesday with his legal associates argued before the High Court Bench headed by Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan, comprising Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe that the State Government’s Devasthanam Act violated the Article 31 A(1)(b), Article 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution. Article 31 is regarding the right of private ownership, Article 25 and 26 empowers religious institutions and believers’ right to manage and conduct their institutions.
In his 30-minute argument, Swamy pointed out the Supreme Court’s Judgment on his Chidambaram Temple case where the apex court ordered the Tamil Nadu Government to return the management of the temple to priests. Swamy argued that the Devasthanam Act must be quashed, pointing out its illegalities and violations in the Indian Constitution. The Judges have asked the State Government to reply in three weeks. Earlier Swamy said that “it is painful that a BJP Government has done this to ancient Hindu temples.”
 Uttarakhand to frame laws for regulation, management of Char Dhams – Oct 19, 2019, The New Indian Express
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