Justice for Dikshidars and Protection for Chidambaram Natarajar Temple-Online Petition-Updated

published on March 3, 2009

To:

Honourable Chief Justice of india,

Supreme Court of India,

New Delhi.

Respected Lordship

Sub: “Justice for Dikshidars and protection for Chidambaram Natarajar
Temple” – Prayer for nullifying the Madras High Court Order.

Ref: The order dated 2nd February 2009 issued by Honourable Justice
Mrs. R. Banumathi concerning the “W.P.No. 18248 of 2006” and
“M.P.Nos.2/2006 and 1/2008”

The Madras High Court had endorsed the appointment of an Executive
Officer by the HR & CE Department of Tamilnadu government to take
control of the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple.

The Podhu Dhikshidhars Sangam (PDS) challenged the government order of
31 July 1987, which was later passed as an ordinance in the state
assembly in 2006, at the Madras High Court. As the Dikishidhars have
the traditional rights over the administration, customs and rituals of
the famous temple for centuries, they rightly claimed the
‘denomination’ status and averred that the appointment of executive
officer amounts to interference in their religious affairs and that it
also goes against Article 26 of the Constitution, as per which they
rightfully enjoy a special (Denomination) status with complete autonomy
in administering the temple, its properties and conduction of rituals.

But then, the Honourable Justice Mrs. R Banumathi had observed that the
PDS could claim protection only under Article 25 of the Constitution.
She had opined that the right to manage the temple is not part of the
religious practice and as such comes under the control of HR & CE.
She had also said that it has been consistently held by the Supreme
Court that the secular activities are subject to statutory control. The
Honourable Judge, under the consideration of the above, had further
said that the PDS is not entitled to protection under clause (b) and
(d) of Article 26 of the Constitution and upheld the appointment of the
EO by the HR & CE Department of the State Government.

Respected Lordship

I humbly and strongly feel that the Honourable Madras High Court
has not taken into consideration the confirmation of the ‘Denomination
Status’ to Chidambaram Natarajar Temple, originally pronounced by the
British authorities in 1891 ((India Case Report 14, Madras, Page-103)
in the ‘Natesa Dikshithar vs Ganapathy case, and also by the Supreme
Court of India way back in 1958, as an off-shoot judgment in the case
of ‘Mr.Venkateswara Thambulu vs State of Mysore’ (AIR 1958 SC 255 – SC
reporter 1958 page 895).

In the famous ‘Shirur Mutt Case’ (Commissioner, HR & CE Madras Vs.
Sri Lakshimindra Thirtha Swamiar of Shri Shirur Mutt – SPA 1954), the
Supreme Court had observed categorically that, ‘Under Article 26 (b), a
religious denomination or organisation enjoys complete autonomy in the
matter of deciding as to what rites and ceremonies are essential
according to the religion they hold and no outside authority has any
jurisdiction to interfere with their decision in such matters’. As the
Chidambaram Temple and the Dikshidar community enjoy denomination
status, right from the opening of the temple early in the morning to
the closing of the temple in the night, all activities carried out by
the Dikshidars are religious and they do not run counter to ‘public
order, health and morality’ and they are not ‘economic, commercial and
political in their character’.

Recently with reference to the administration of Sri Karaneeswarar
Temple, Saidapet, Chennai, when the HR & CE Department of the
Tamilnadu government appointed an Executive Officer (EO) to administer
the temple, the Honourable High Court, admitting the petitions filed by
the ‘Senguntha Mudhaliar’ community (WP No: 15468 of 2003 and WP No:
15469 of 2003), had ruled that the appointment of EO is unnecessary and
observed that the EO could operate only as an ‘implementing
functionary’ of the dictates of the Senguntha Mudhaliar Community. It
is pertinent to note that the judgment has been in favour of the
Senguntha Mudhaliar Community despite it not enjoying a ‘denomination’
status.

As recently as 2008, the Andhra Pradesh government has recognised the
worship and administration of the Chilkur Balaji Temple, Hyderabad as
unique and confirmed it through a special government order (GO M/s No
260 dated 29/2/08) allowing it to continue as it is, thereby assuring
that the government would not interfere in the administration of the
temple in future too.

Respected Lordship

The Podhu Dhikshidars Sangam (PDS) had filed a Writ Appeal, which
has been admitted by the Divisional Bench of the Madras High Court and
Janatha Party President and Former Union Law Minister Dr.Subramanyam
Swamy has also impleaded himself in support of the Dikshidars. The case
had to be adjourned twice due to the untoward incidents happened in the
Madras High Court on 17, 19 and 25 February 2009. Now since the
functioning of the High Court has been stalled by the agitating
lawyers, the case remains pending.

Respected Lordship 

I hope that the Honourable Divisional Bench, in its next sitting,
would consider all the relevant facts and previous judgments and
finally quash the appointment of the Executive Officer by the Hr &
CE Department of Tamilnadu Government and confirm the ‘Denomination’
status of the Chidambaram Temple and the Dikshidars Community. In the
event of an unfavourable judgment by the Divisional Bench, I am of the
opinion that the PDS might approach the Honourable Supreme Court and
during that time, I would humbly request you to kindly admit this
online petition too for your kind consideration, as this petitioned has
been accepted and endorsed by thousands of concerned citizens of India
and the Indians settled abroad.

Respected Lordship

I strongly feel that as per the Freedom of Religion enshrined in
the Constitution, the constitution of HR & CE Department itself is
a violation of the Constitution. Hence, I hereby request you to kindly
quash the appointment of the EO and direct the Tamilnadu government to
stop meddling with the administration of the Chidambaram Natarajar
Temple and also to issue an Order confirming the Denomination Status of
the Temple and the Dikshidars Community.

Thanking You Sir,

Yours Truly,

B.R.Haran (A Devout Shiva Baktha),

Chennai



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