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Court refuses to quash rules on civil works on temple premises
A division bench comprising Justice R Mahadevan and Justice P D Audikesavalu, pointed out that failure to implement the law, can utmost give a right to the aggrieved person to approach the court for redressal and not seek to declare the rule as null and void.
Observing that difficulty in implementation or wrongful implementation cannot be a valid reason, the Madras High Court dismissed a plea that sought to declare the Management and Preservation of Properties of Religious Institutions (MPPRI) Rules as ultra vires of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Act, and consequently the department from carrying out any civil works within temple premises.
A division bench comprising Justice R Mahadevan and Justice PD Audikesavalu pointed out that failure to implement the law can utmost give a right to the aggrieved person to approach the court for redressal and not seek to declare the rule as null and void.
“The object of the enactment is to provide for administration and governance of the temples and its properties. The words ‘administration and governance’ are wide enough to include within its ambit ‘preservation, maintenance, management and improvement’, which are all nothing but actions that are required to be taken by the authorities to protect the religious institutions and its properties,” the bench held.
However, even as it upheld its validity, the court added it was of the considered opinion that it would be appropriate for the government to revisit the rules by deleting unnecessary provisions that were not relevant anymore.
The bench also sought the government to introduce suitable provisions in respect to matters that are not covered under the existing rules in conformity with the directions issued by the court by an order on June 7 for effective and proper management of temples across the State.
The petitioner, TR Ramesh, had contended that the department was carrying out several activities within the temples, including renovation, alteration and construction of the buildings, and changing icons, statues and other objects, without having any authority and in violation of the powers vested under the HR&CE Act.
He further contended that the words preservation, maintenance, management and improvement have not been defined in the Act and the powers to make the rules were only to safeguard, protect and preserve the structures and images found in temples in their original or existing forms and not to construct, alter or renovate the temple buildings. Hence, the enactment of MPPRI Rules was beyond the scope and powers of the HR&CE Act, he had argued.