Supreme Court on Monday questioned government authorities taking over administration of religious places and said that the task of temple administration and management should be entrusted to devotees. The court also expressed concern over ‘the failure of various state governments in managing temple affairs’.
The Supreme Court was hearing a PIL on the issued related to the management of Jagannath temple in Odisha. The petitioners alleged that the temple administration failed to maintain clean and hygienic environment.
Referring to the apex court’s 2014 order by which administration of Chidambaram Nataraja Temple was taken out of control of Tamil Nadu government, a bench of Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer said it will consider that verdict while deciding on the issue of administration of in Puri.
“We had occasion to examine the issue in case of Chidambaram temple. I do not know why government officers should run the temple. In Tamil Nadu, there are many cases of theft of idols. What are government officers doing. These idols, apart from the religious sentiments, are priceless,” said Justice Bobde, who was part of the bench which passed the order on Chidambaram temple.
Advocate Suchit Mohanty who appeared for Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Nischalananda Saraswati of Gobardhan Math, told the bench the spiritual guru had filed application in the case to assist the court in deciding the issue. Mohanty also cited many instances where the management interfered with the religious affairs of the temple, resulting in serious disturbances including stampede during ‘Darshan’ of the deities.
Attorney General K K Venugopal also upheld the view of the court that there should not be state interference in management of temples. He said that the issue has to be examined by the court on how a government can take over the control of temples in a secular country.