Tamil Nadu

HC dismisses plea to declare HR&CE Act unconstitutional

The Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed as withdrawn a writ petition to declare as unconstitutional the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Act of 1959.

Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy were not inclined to entertain the case filed by Arjunan Elayaraja of Cuddalore and hence his counsel chose to withdraw it.

In his affidavit, the litigant claimed that the State Government had put fetters on practice of Hindu religion by enacting the 1959 law. He said a secular State could not be allowed to control Hindu temples alone.

He also contended that the Act violates Articles 14 (right to equality) and 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion) of the Constitution besides being opposed to Articles 25 (freedom to practice religion) and 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs).

The petitioner claimed that Hinduism was the oldest religion in the world and that other religions such as Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism had come into being only in the last 3,000 years.

“The enactment of a law for Hindus alone is wounding and hence this writ petition is filed,” his affidavit read. However, Chief Justice Sahi pointed out that there was also the Wakf Act of 1995 and many mosques were covered under the wakfs. He said that there was the Sikh Gurudwaras Act of 1925.

However, the petitioner's counsel replied that the Christians and other religious denominations were not governed by any such enactment. He contended that it was not right on the part of the State Government to take full control of Hindu temples alone by appointing its own employees as Executive Officers of those institutions.

Unimpressed with the submissions, the Chief Justice said the argument might carry weight in the United States whose Constitution itself prohibits the State from enacting laws aimed at administering religious institutions.

He said the Indian Constitution does not impose any such prohibition. Hence in order to avoid the writ petition getting dismissed on merits, in which case a new case for the same relief could not be filed in the future, the petitioner's counsel chose to withdraw.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 5:32:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-dismisses-plea-to-declare-hrce-act-unconstitutional/article32576756.ece

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