The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday dismissed a writ petition filed against a decision taken by Srirangam Aranganathaswamy Temple in Tiruchi to dispense with ‘Brahmaratham,' a custom of carrying religious leaders in a palanquin inside the temple premises.
Justice M. Jaichandren said that the High Court could not go into such disputes and it was for the petitioner, Sri Vedavyasa R. Lakshmi Narasimha Bhattar (71), to establish his right — to be carried in the palanquin — before the Tiruchi District Munsif Court which was seized of a civil suit pending since 2006.
The judge agreed with R. Govindarajan, counsel for the Temple's Executive Officer, that the petitioner could alternatively prove his claim of the custom being followed for more than 1,000 years by producing appropriate evidence before the Joint Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department.
“Even if certain practices have been followed for a long number of years, and even if such practices can be taken to form part of the religious rights recognised under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution, reasonable restrictions can be imposed on such practices by the State on certain specific grounds,” the judge added.
He pointed out that the Board of Trustees of the Temple had passed a resolution on September 27 to give up the practice of ‘Brahmaratham.' Tamil Nadu Association of Temple Employees also had passed a resolution on October 23 stating that they would not carry anyone in a palanquin inside the temple premises.
“The said resolutions have not been challenged till date… In such circumstances, this Court is of the considered view that the petitioner has not shown sufficient cause or reason to grant the reliefs as prayed for in the present writ petition,” Mr. Justice Jeyachandran observed.
He also dismissed three intervening applications filed by the Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties, Human Rights Protection Centre and Periyar Thathuva Maiyam against the petitioner's plea. The judge said that permitting them to intervene would “unnecessarily enlarge” the ambit of the case.
The intervening petitioners had claimed that carrying a person in a palanquin was an “inhuman and undignified” practice which was against the principles enshrined in the Constitution. They also said that such practices were vehemently criticised by leaders such as B.R. Ambedkar and Periyar.