A Madras High Court order is bound to have its impact on the management of Sri Kapali Temple soon.
As per the Madras HC order in the Sri Varasiddhi Vinayagar Sath Sangam, Besant Nagar case and the HR & CE, the web copy of which has been uploaded this week on its web site, an Executive Officer (EO) cannot function in any temple in Tamil Nadu for more than five years.
The order also pointed out that the appointment of a permanent EO is not contemplated under Section 45 and is contrary to G.O. dated 06.11.2015 as well as the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Dr.Subramanian Swamy and Another Vs. The State of Tamil Nadu and Others.
The State, in G.O.Ms.No.260 dated 06.11.2015, has framed rules for appointment of E.O and their tenure has been set at a maximum of five years.
Madras HC judge Dr. Anitha Sumanth said “I had noted that with the elapsing of the tenure of the E.O (period of five years), he (she) becomes functus officio.”
Section 23 of the HR & CE act specifically provides for an exigency and proviso thereto stipulates that notice has to be given to the person in charge along with complete particulars of the allegations (against the persons in management (Trustee)) prior to any attempt at taking over the management of the temple. The judge noted that a public temple collecting public money in the hundials does not by itself call for interference by the HR & CE department, except if the department has sufficient evidence of mis-management or mal- administration.
As per this order, the position of the current Executive Officer of Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple is untenable as the stipulated period of five years has expired and the temple has to be handed back to the hereditary trustees.
T R Ramesh, President, Temple Worshippers Society, who was instrumental in securing the Chidambaram temple back to the hereditary trustees from the HR &CE, said “Even in a temple where an Executive Officer is appointed by validly following the procedures laid down in law, Court has opined that such Executive Officers cannot function in such temples beyond 5 years. Specifically, in the case of Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple, the presence of an E.O. is illegal as per the Court’s order. The management of the temple should immediately be handed back to the Saivite community of Poonamalee Mudhaliars, who are the hereditary trustees, from whose hands the administration was taken over a few decades ago.”
Over three centuries ago, when Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple was being built in its current location, the Thuluva Velalar community had a significant role to play in its development. Till the middle of the 19th century, there were two trustees and one overseer (supervisor) on the board of this temple.
Even after the HR & CE took over the temple, three members of the Thulu Vellala community were appointed as trustees and this went on till 1976. And then all of a sudden, no members were appointed from the community.
Based on the documents presented to the court, the High Court directed in 1980 to appoint at least one representative from the Poonamalee Uyir Thuluva Vellalar Marabinar Sangam to the Board of Trustees of the Kapaleeswarar Temple. For three decades, there continued to be this representative on the Board. Earlier in the decade, the trustee was done away with and a ‘Thakkar’ was appointed by the HR & CE.
This overriding High Court order that refers to the State Government’s own order in 2015 restricting the presence of EOs for over five years in all temples in the state could lead to the administration being handed back to the hereditary trustees of Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple.
- Report by S. Prabhu