Chennai

HC refrains from deciding whether Athi Varadar is a guest at Kanchi temple

The judges refused to delve deep into the issue while dismissing a PIL petition.

The judges refused to delve deep into the issue while dismissing a PIL petition.  

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Says nothing wrong in restricting worship of Moolavar to facilitate Darshan of Athi Varadar

The Madras High Court on Monday refrained from deciding whether Athi Varadar, a fig wood idol of Lord Varadaraja Perumal taken out of the Devarajaswamy temple tank, Anantasaras, in Kancheepuram once in 40 years and kept for worship on the temple premises for 48 days was only a guest or could he also be considered as a Moolavar (main deity).

A Division Bench of Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad refused to delve deep into the issue while dismissing a public interest litigation petition which questioned the decision taken by the temple management to prevent devotees from worshipping Devarajaswamy and other idols in order to control the crowd thronging to worship Athi Varadar.

The judges held that the officials were entitled to restrain devotees from worshipping the Moolavar (main deity) and other idols and that the decision could not be found fault with since it was imposed only from July 18 when the crowd swelled to 2.75 lakh a day though the Athi Varadar idol had been kept for worship in the temple since July 1.

Though it was argued that not allowing devotees to worship the Moolavar was against the Constitutional right to practice religion and the rules framed under the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act of 1947, the judges refused to accept the submission.

The Act and the rules have no relevance to the decision taken by the officials for regulating the huge crowd, they said.

“During festivals when large number of devotees assemble, State government should be given freedom of action to regulate the timings and days of Darshan of Moolavar inside the temple. We are not impressed with the argument that restricting Darshan of Moolavar is violative of Rule 8 and 9 of the rules framed under the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act,” the Bench added.

On the arguments advanced by petitioner’s counsel that Athi Varadar was only a guest and for him the Darshan of Moolavar could not be prevented, they said: “We are not going into the question as to whether Athi Varadar is only a guest and not the Moolavar. This debate is not necessary for adjudication of the issue raised in the petition.”

They, however, recorded the submission of Additional Advocate General (AAG) P.H. Arvindh Pandian and Additional Government Pleader E. Manoharan that the decision preventing worship of Moolavar was being reviewed by the officials concerned.

The judges also dismissed another PIL petition which complained about incovenience caused to around 250 local residents due to restrictions imposed by the police on movement of vehicles.

“Preventing entry of vehicles for residents temporarily cannot be said to be excessive regulation. We are not impressed with the argument that even basic facilities like milk are not being made available to local residents. In any event, the learned AAG had assured this court that the respondents will look into the matter and bring out some remedial steps to address the inconvenience expressed by the local public,” they said.

By way of a common order, the Bench also dismissed a few other PIL petitions which sought for deployment of Central Industrial Security Force to control the crowd and insisted upon installing air coolers for the convenience of the devotees who had to stand in serpentine queues to worship Athi Varadar. The judges said nothing had been brought to their notice that would make them come to a conclusion that State police was not able to control the crowd.

Recording the government’s submission that nearly 34 lakh devotees had visited the temple between July 1 and July 24, the judges said, it was sufficient to prove that the State police had been able to control the crowd effectively. “Mere ipse dixit of the petitioner that the local police is not able to control the crowd does not persuade us to direct the State government to take the help of CISF,” they concluded.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 10:16:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/hc-refrains-from-deciding-whether-athi-varadar-is-a-guest-at-kanchi-temple/article28752749.ece

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