The Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on Monday on a batch of appeals challenging the Tamil Nadu government’s order appointing Executive Officer to manage the affairs and properties of the Chidambaram Natarajar temple.
A Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde reserved judgment on December 5 last at the conclusion of arguments by counsel for all the parties.
Podu Dikshitars contended that they were a religious denomination as per the Article 26 of the Constitution “which guarantees right to establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes.”
The Supreme Court in its judgment in 1952 had recognised their right to administer the Natarajar temple and it could not be taken away. The Podu Dikshitars’ association with the temple was more than 2,000 years old and the task of offering worship and administering the temple was entrusted with them. The failure if any with regard to administration of such properties could not be the reason for interfering with their right to maintain the temple.
It was the argument of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, one of the appellants, that an attempt was made after Independence to bring the temple administration under State control in August 1951 but the Supreme Court had held that the Podu Dikshitars had a right to administer the temple as a religious denomination.
Quoting the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, Dr. Swamy said “Section 107 specifically bars the application of the Act to institutions coming under the purview of or enjoying the protection of Article 26 of the Constitution.” If there were allegations of misappropriation, it should be dealt with under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and not by taking over the temple administration, he argued.
Tamil Nadu government justified its order appointing an Executive Officer.