Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Court upholds Hindu temple administration rights

Law Court foils attempt of Christians to make inroads into Hindu temple administration

In a landmark judgement, the Madras High Court decreed that a Hindu temple administration can appoint only Hindus as its employees, while dismissing a petition by a Christian group.  Following are the case particulars:

A Private Security Agency (Forte) owned by family of Christians challenged a tender notification issued by Subhramaniya Swamy Temple at Tiruchendur in Tuticorin district, Tamilnadu, on July 29. Justice K Chandru dismissed the writ petition filed stating that 'Hindu temple cannot be compelled to engage the services of a security agency owned by non-Hindus. Ultimately, reforms in matters of religious administration, if any, have to come from within and not outside, and the court could not thrust reforms'. 
He held that courts cannot direct a temple management to engage the private security agency owned by non-Hindus even if it the agency undertook to provide security personnel professing Hindu faith alone.

A temple cannot be termed 'State' so as to compel it to engage contractors professing other faith. "Guarding a temple or a place of worship is a sensitive issue and ultimately it is for the temple to decide on such matters," the judge said.
He also pointed out that Section 10 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act clearly stated that all servants of a temple, right from the Joint Commissioner to the last grade servants, including the security guards, must be Hindus.
He rejected the petitioner's contention that its exclusion would amount to discrimination practiced by a State Government official such as the Joint Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department in the name of religion.
He also pointed out that the Joint Commissioner was only a supervisory authority in his capacity as the Executive Officer of the temple, which was actually managed by a Board of Trustees which had decided to engage a security agency owned by Hindus alone.

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