HC declines to stay notification on Melsanthi appointments

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A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on July 28 declined to stay the notification issued by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) stipulating that only 'Malayala Brahmins' alone are eligible to apply for the post of Melsanthis (head priests) in Sabarimala and Malikappuram temples.

When the petitions challenging the notification came up for hearing, the Bench comprising Justice C.T. Ravi Kumar and Justice Murali Purashothaman orally observed that this was not a matter where one could hurriedly take a decision, adding that "We cannot pass an interim order now. The matter requires detailed consideration. We are not making any observations on the merit of the case."

The court also asked the TDB and others to file counter-affidavits in the case.

When the petitions filed by C.V. Vishnu Narayanan, Sijith T.L and other candidates were taken up for hearing, the counsel for the petitioner sought to stay the notification saying that the last date for submitting applications was on July 17 and if the Board went ahead with the selection process, their petition would become infructuous.

The petitioners pointed out that in the notification inviting applications for the posts of Sabarimala and Malikappuram Melsanthis the TDB had stipulated that the application must be submitted only by the members from the Malayala Brahmin community. The petitioners contended that the appointment to the posts of Melasanthis was a secular act. Therefore, the posts could not be reserved to one particular community, especially in an institution administered by the government-controlled board.

The appointment of a priest should be made from among persons well versed, fully qualified, and trained in their duties and mantras, tantras, and necessary Vedas, irrespective of their caste. It could not be exclusively reserved for any caste, be it Malayala Brahmin or otherwise, as such action would directly hit Article 14 of the Constitution, the petitioners argued.

The court adjourned the petitions for further hearing to August 12.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 8:37:08 AM |

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