"Let the religious people deal with it," the Supreme Court said today while refusing to entertain a plea against an Andhra Pradesh High Court order holding that the state of Andhra Pradesh had no authority under law to appoint an executive officer to the Ahobilam mutt temple.

A bench of Justice S K Kaul and Justice Abhay S. Oka said Andhra Pradesh has no authority, jurisdiction, or entitlement under the law to appoint an executive officer of the 'Sri Ahobila Mutt Parampara Aadheena Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Devasthanam' (Ahobilam Mutt Temple).

"Let the religious people handle this. In every case under Article 136 (special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court), we need not try to settle the law. Sorry,"
the bench told the lawyer appearing for the state that had challenged the high court order.

One petition before the high court stated that the Ahobilam temple, situated in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, has been under the control of Sri Ahobilam Mutt, which is based in Tamil Nadu, since time immemorial.

The state of Andhra Pradesh and others had challenged the October 13, 2022, high court order, which said the Ahobilam temple is an "integral and inseparable part of the Ahobilam Math, which was established as a part of propagation of Hindu religion and for rendering spiritual service for propagating Sri Vaishnavism".

The high court had said appointing an executive officer for the temple, which is a part of the Mutt, is violative of Article 26(d) of the Constitution as it affects the right of administration of Jeeyars'/Mathadipathis.

The high court had passed the order on separate petitions questioning the appointment of an executive officer of the 'Devasthanam'.

The state claimed in its plea that the high court had erred in holding that the Commissioner of the Endowments department does not possess the power to appoint an executive officer to take charge of the administration of the temple under section 29 of the Andhra Pradesh Religious Endowments and Charitable Institutions Act 1987 simply because the temple is affiliated with the Ahobilam Mutt.

"The high court failed to appreciate that the subject temple and the Ahobilam Math are distinct, independent juristic persons and thus, the subject temple's inclusion in the definition of 'Math' is simply incongruous," it said.

With PTI Inputs