While observing that worshipping god is a right of every individual, the Madras High Court has directed the Joint Commissioner, HR and CE Department to conduct an enquiry into the affairs of the Arulmighu Valagurunathaswamy Temple which has been closed since 2011.

The Bench of Justice K. Kumaresh Babu was adjudicating upon a plea challenging the order of the 3rd Respondent-Fit Person of Arulmigu Gurunathasamy Temple, wherein, it was stated that the temple will be opened on October 07, 2022.

Advocate C. Selvaraj appeared for the Petitioner whereas Special Government Pleader D.Gandhiraj appeared for the HR and CE Department. Advocate S. Manohar appeared for Arulmighu Valagurunathaswamy Temple.

The case of the petitioner is that the temple called Arulmighu Valagurunathaswamy Temple situated at Melanesaneri Village, Thirumangalam Taluk, Madurai District is in existence for more than 150 years and that the same belongs to his ancestors and has been worshipped by the members of the particular community. He further submitted that there were civil proceedings pertaining to the affairs of the temple.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that one Veerapathiran had approached the Court by filing a writ petition in which the Court had directed the said Veerapathiran to submit a fresh representation to the 3rd Respondent. It was submitted that on receipt of such representation, the 3rd respondent was directed to dispose of the same within a period of 4 weeks thereafter on merits and in accordance with law.

While that being so, it was submitted that the 3rd respondent had issued the impugned notice, which was affixed on the wall of the temple stating that as per the directions of this Court in the aforesaid writ petition, the temple will be opened on October 7, 2022 at 10.00 am.

It was further argued that when there is no order or direction issued by the Court to reopen the temple, the order passed by the 3rd respondent as if this Court had directed opening of the temple is wholly void and has tried to mislead the devotees.

The Court observed that "A perusal of the order made in W.P.(MD) No.17260 of 2018 would clearly indicate that no such order has been passed for the opening of the temple. What has been directed was to consider a representation, which was to be forwarded again by the petitioner therein to the 3rd respondent and the 3rd respondent was directed to pass appropriate orders on merits and in accordance with law."

Therefore without making any remarks further on the said action of the 3rd respondent, the Court set aside the notice issued by the 3rd respondent for opening the temple.

The Court also noted that the pendency of the civil proceedings are only with reference to a mandatory injunction for opening of the temple, for a negative injunction restraining the people from interfering with the affairs of the temple and for installation of the idol in the temple only. The Court held that the said suits cannot be a bar for the Joint Commissioner, HR and CE Department to decide about the nature of the temple or as to the rights of the rival parties in administering the temple.

In view of this, the Court set aside the impugned notice and directed the Joint Commissioner, HR and CE Department to conduct an enquiry as expeditiously as possible.

Cause Title- K.Seeni Thevar v. The Joint Commissioner, HR and CE Department & Ors.

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