Chennai: In a major setback to the Tamil Nadu government and the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) department, the Madras High Court has set aside the take over of the Ayodhya Mandapam.
The first bench of the High Court comprising of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D. Bharath Chakravarthy on Wednesday set aside the takeover of the Ayodhya Mandapam.
The takeover of the Ayodhya Mandapam was challenged in court by the Shri Ram Samaj and the court after hearing the arguments from both sides directed the state government to hand the control back to the Shri Ram Samaj. The court said that the HR&CE order was passed without following the procedures of natural justice and that no further opportunity for hearing was given to the Shri Ram Samaj.
The bench said that the HR&CE department had passed the orders merely stating that the Samaj was a public temple as per Section 6 (20) of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act as it fulfilled the conditions stated in the Act. The court said that the HR&CE department failed to look into the objectives of the Samaj and other activities carried out by the Samaj.
The court directed the HR&CE department to conduct a fresh inquiry and proceed in the matter afresh after following the procedures of law.
The court passed the orders on an appeal filed by the Shri Ram Samaj against the order of a single judge dismissing the writ petition filed in 2014 against the take over of the Ayodhya Mandapam by the HR&CE department and appointing a 'fit person' to take over the administration of the Samaj.
The court also directed the Shri Ram Samaj to maintain a proper book of accounts and to carry out all transactions through the banks so that all the transactions are accounted for.
The DMK government had tried to take over the Ayodhya Mandapam and it had led to a major political row in the past few months.
There was a major ruckus in front of the Ayodhya Mandapam at West Mambalam in April this year when the HR&CE took over the premises amid heavy police deployment.
Chief Minister Stalin had while speaking in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly on April 12 told the BJP that if it was trying to politicize the Ayodhya Mandapam into a temple issue, it would not succeed.