The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Tamil Nadu government on its control over the temples and appointment of non-Brahmins as archakas in temples.
The notice was issued by a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia while hearing a petition filed by former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy challenging the provisions of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959.
The act gave the state government the power to appoint and dismiss archakas in the Hindu temples and to appoint non-Brahmins as archakas in the temples.
In his petition, Swamy has sought the intervention of the Court to prevent the government from appointing archakas at the temple as it is in the power of the temple managements.
He said, the state government cannot become the proprietor of temple properties.
The petition said that the state government has taken over close to 40,000 Hindu temples in the state and it is in violation of the rights of the Hindus in the state to profess, practice and propagate their religion.
Archakas in temples do not fall within the definition of a secular activity and should be declared as such, it said.
The petitioner further said that even if the same is considered to be a secular activity, it cannot be taken over and carried out by the government and can only be performed by independent trustees of Hindu temples and religious institutions.
When the petition was taken up for hearing on Monday, the Court had questioned Swamy for filing the petition now when several similar petitions are pending before the Court.
To which, Swamy said that no petition on this particular subject is pending before the court and the matter is getting to be an epidemic.
Swamy insisted that the Court grant an interim stay of restraining the government from appointing or dismissing temple archakas till the final disposal of the petition.
To which, the bench said that they could not stay the Act now.Swamy pleaded the bench to at least stay the appointment of archakas by the government.
The bench turned down his plea and said that they would issue a notice to the Tamil Nadu government.The Court tagged the matter with a similar pending matter.