Madras HC Refuses to Stay Single Bench Order on Caste Criteria in Appointment of Priests


CHENNAI – The Madras High Court on Friday refused to stay the verdict of its single judge’s bench that caste would not have any role in the appointment of Archakas (temple priests) .

The single-judge’s bench had, in its June 26 verdict, said that any person properly trained to perform pujas and other rituals as per Agama Sastra could be appointed to the post.

Hearing a challenge, a division bench of Chief Justice S.V. Gangapurwala and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu issued notice to Advocate General R. Shanmugasundaram and special government pleader Arun Natarajan on behalf of the state Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department and adjourned the case to September 22.

The judges refused to pass an interim order which was sought by appellant Muthu Subramania Gurukkal of Salem, saying that such a relief could not be given without the granting an opportunity for the other side to file a reply.

The appellant had, in his petition for a stay, said that the single judge bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh had totally misconstrued the decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in His Holiness Srimad Perarulala Ethiraja Ramanuja Jeeyar Swami versus state of Tamil Nadu.

He also said that the verdict of the single judge was “ex-facie erroneous, unsustainable in law and liable to be reversed”.

“The learned judge erred in traversing beyond the scope of the writ petition and in the process, issuing general directions contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Seshammal’s case (1972). The appellant claimed that the Karama Agama as well as the other 27 Saiva Agamas clearly prescribe that only persons belonging to the denomination of Adi Saivars/Sivacharayars/Gurukkals are eligible to become Archakas in the temples governed by 28 Saiva Agamas and that his custom was upheld by the Supreme Court in Seshammal’s case,” the plea said. -IANS


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