The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday delivered a verdict with respect to the holy shrine of Lord Muruga at Palani Hills in Tamil Nadu by cancelling the tender issued by the executive officer to appoint contractors for providing house keeping services in the temple and establishments attached to the temple.
Justice G R Swaminathan, who heard a writ petition filed by T R Ramesh, president, Indic Collective, challenging the executive officer’s move to float tenders for the same accepted the contention of the petitioner that devotees were authorized with the maintenance and cleaning of the the temple and its premises as per “Uzhavara Pani”, an age old voluntary service ritual. Ramesh also argued that the executive officer by entrusting the cleaning and maintenance works of the temple to outsiders on a commercial basis was infringing on the rights of the devotees.
He pointed out that the Board of Trustees which should consist of eminent Hindus and men of impeccable characters have been lying vacant for the last nine years as the Government has filed to reconstitute the same after the expiry of the previous Trustee’s tenure.
Justice Swaminathan who heard both sides felt that devotees should not be denied their rights to offer voluntary services.. “The State Government as well as the controlling authorities will take all possible steps to ensure that the board of trustees is constituted for the second respondent temple as early as possible. Reconstituting temple trust boards with eminent Hindus and men of impeccable character would be a good start. Leaving the temples in the care of the bureaucracy and politicians hasn’t helped,” said Swaminathan in his verdict.
Quoting from Periya Puranam (Great Epic) authored by Sekkizhar, the 12th century saint, the justice pointed out that Shaivism speaks of four modes of worship-sariyai, kriyai, yogam and gnanam. “Sariyai includes physical service (Uzhavara Pani). House keeping contract is the commercial counterpart of Uzhavara Pani,” ruled the judge.
“This is magnificent judgment from the Madras HC which lays the foundation for getting all Hindu temples freed from bureaucratic and political control,” said Subramanian Swamy MP.