The right of worship guaranteed by the Constitution to be respected by all parties involved and devotees cannot be denied their right to worship under any circumstances is upheld by the Madras High Court in the case of S. Narayanan v. State of T.N through Justice S.M. Subramaniam.
FACTS OF THE CASE
A petition was submitted challenging the legality of the notice given by the Executive Trustee, the Respondent.
The argument centred on the opening recitals of Srisaila Dayapathram (by the Thengalai Sect) and Sri Ramanuja Dayapathram (by the Vadagalai Sect), respectively. Ordinary worshipers were unable to have a peaceful Darshan in the subject Temple, namely Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple, as a result of the conflict between Thengalai Sect and Vadagalai Sect.
The respondent issued a Circular to control Temple activities, including ceremonial and pooja adherence. The petitioner argued that the contested Circular violated the Vadagalai Sect’s fundamental freedom to worship and to perform their recitals in the temple.
According to the High Court, a religion may specify rituals and observances, ceremonies, and modes of worship that are considered to be an essential component of the religion in addition to a code of ethics for its adherents to adopt. As a result, even religious rites and ceremonies are protected by the constitutional right to freedom of religion as stated in Article 25(1).
Court further stated that the respondent was empowered to regulate the affairs of the temple and to maintain decorum in all respects and at all ties, including while performing the rituals, poojas, etc. Therefore, it is important to appreciate and share the sentiments of the Vadagali and Thengalai Sects.
The Court elaborated that each fundamental right is subject to limitations in order to preserve public order in Temple administration and its activities, and that mutual understanding, respect, and glorification of the Lord alone will preserve the sanctity of the temple activities. As a result, both sects were expected to perform services to Lord Sri Varadaraja Perumal instead of fighting over insignificant matters.
In addition to the aforementioned remarks, the court declared that the respondent has the authority to control temple activities and ensure the observance of religious rites and rituals held there.
The respondent was instructed to keep an eye on how the Thengalai sect and Vadagalai sect observe ceremonies, and to take all necessary legal measures, including punitive sanctions, where there are any violations of discipline or decorum.
Accordinly, the Court held that every devotee has the right to enter the temple and worship Lord Sri Varadaraja Perumal in the manner he chooses without interfering with the rights of other worshippers or temple activities. Court further stated that the right of worship guaranteed by the Constitution to be respected by all parties involved and devotees cannot be denied their right to worship under any circumstances.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NISHTHA GARHWAL