Questioning prayers to strike down legal guidelines regulating temples and free them from authorities management, the Supreme Court docket on Thursday requested a petitioner who raised the plea what’s the want for it and mentioned the current association, beneath which temples have additionally “catered to the larger needs of society”, has been functioning for a very long time.
The court docket mentioned reversing this might “turn the clock back” to days when “all these temples…these centres of religion, had become places of wealth”.
The SC sought “some material” in assist and mentioned it is going to be heard subsequent on September 19.
The bench mentioned: “There is 150 year of history…these temples, or places of worship, or these denominations — they have functioned in a particular way. Which means they have catered to the larger needs of society and not only their temple, and not aggrandize themselves. After all, why did we have the inams (land parcels granted by erstwhile rulers) abolition?”
“You are virtually rolling the clock back, because all these temples, centres of religion had become places of wealth. Some of them, like Sringeri, etc, gave it up voluntarily. Now if we are to roll back, that’s exactly the point we will reach,” Justice S Ravindra Bhat, who was a part of a two-judge bench presided by CJI U U Lalit, mentioned, as senior advocate Arvind Datar, showing for the petitioner, identified that the primary such laws was The Spiritual Endowments Act, 1863,
Justice Bhat mentioned if such a state of affairs arises, “there has to be some framework where, obviously, everything will not be used by the centre or that religion but will go back to the people”.
The court docket was listening to a PIL by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, who urged it to declare that Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs have rights to manage their spiritual locations with out state intervention — like comparable rights Muslims, Christians and Parsis get pleasure from.
Datar mentioned Upadhyay’s plea had challenged Endowment Acts of varied states and mentioned that solely Hindu endowments are regulated, whereas others will not be. He mentioned comparable petitions had been raised in a pending plea by Dayananda Saraswati.
Datar mentioned the legal guidelines are a “direct violation of Article 26(b). I have a right to manage my temples.”
Article 26 (b) offers with freedom to handle spiritual affairs, topic to public order, morality and well being.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, additionally showing for the petitioner, mentioned 1000’s of temples had closed down on account of lack of funds.
However the CJI referred to as these “sweeping statements” and requested “where are the documents” to assist the rivalry.
Sankaranarayanan mentioned even when the difficulty of mismanagement is ignored, “the legal issue is much larger”.
As he referred to income from Tirupati, Justice Bhat mentioned, “This could be a debate. After all, if it is a seat of the temple, it is by the people. So it has to go back to people in some form. So the town of Tirupati is benefitted. You have universities, a whole range of services…which have come up.”
However Sankaranarayanan mentioned many of those are by means of non-public endowments.
“Maybe,” Justice Bhat mentioned, “but then this is also through state enterprise. We have colleges even in Delhi [under Tirupati trust]; there are universities. What you mentioned could be different. I am not talking of that.”
Sankaranarayanan requested why just one faith is used for this.
Justice Bhat replied, “One understands where you are getting at. The point is the scale of offerings, maybe Tirupati or even in Shirdi, so colossal…. Are you suggesting that it should be outside the pale of regulation or it should only be with those centres?”
“We are saying that please have an even scale for everybody,” Sankaranayayanan mentioned. “In a secular state, you have to distance the Church from the State. If the State is going to get proximate with one religion, there is a problem. We have to correct that.”
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The senior counsel mentioned he was not asking the court docket to legislate on the purpose however to strike down legal guidelines which violate Article 14.
Justice Bhat mentioned, “That is one case. You will then be left with what…. The wealth that is generated, nobody is there to regulate…no law to account to. Nobody to audit this, and you will be [the] centres of power in your own way.”
He mentioned, “You can’t compare (case of temples) with the other religions. They may have their own systems of checks and balances — I don’t know that — but the scale (in the case of temples) definitely is different.”
Sankaranarayan identified that comparable points had already been regarded into by the court docket within the Padmanabha Swamy temple case when some PIL petitioners had raised the difficulty of mismanagement.