Supreme Court Issues Different Orders on Temples and Churches Regulation

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Recent Supreme Court observations in two similar cases, one involving the management of a temple and the other the monitoring activities of Christian missionaries, have raised apprehensions about the perils Hindus expect.

Ruling on two similar cases, filed in less than a week, the Supreme Court gave two diverging interpretations on the very similar issue of running religious places of two different faiths – one Hindu temple and the second being Christian missionaries. This has now intensified a debate about how Hindus have been left dependent on the courts to even practice their faith.

On March 19, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear a petition challenging the order of the Madras High Court which rejected a plea requesting the appointment of a committee of trustees headed by a retired judge in all Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu.

The petition filed by the Hindu activist group – ‘Hindu Dharma Parishad’ had called for the appointment of an Arangavalar Committee (Administrative Committee) headed by a retired judge in all Hindu temples with a social activist, a devotee , a scheduled caste and a woman as members to manage the temples of Tamil Nadu.

A Supreme Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari has issued a notice to the State of Tamil Nadu and others seeking their responses on the plea against the Madras High Court order. On December 9, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had dismissed Parishad’s writ seeking similar relief.

Encouraged by the Supreme Court order that interfered in the management of Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu, the activist group – ‘Hindu Dharma Parishad’ filed another petition to the Supreme Court urging them to establish a council to monitor and control the activities of Christian missionaries. in the countryside.

The petition filed by Parishad was almost similar to the one they filed earlier asking for the establishment of a committee to manage the Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu, except this time it was for Christian missionaries.

However, the Supreme Court curiously took a different stance on the matter as it refused to consider a petition filed by a group of Hindu activists. On March 25, just a week later after publishing a notice in the Hindu Temples Petition, the Supreme Court of India dismissed a petition filed by the Hindu activist group – Hindu Dharma Parishad seeking to establish a council for monitor and control the activities of Christian Missionaries in the country.

A Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Indira Banerjee and AS Bopanna had dismissed the petition filed by Hindu Dharma Parishad, citing the Madras High Court order, which stated that the plea could not stand as the jurisdiction lies with the court. State and that there was a law in place which provided for prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by the use of force or seduction or by fraudulent means.

In his petition to the Supreme Court against the High Court’s order, the petitioner argued that in recent years certain anti-social and anti-national elements are forcibly converting people from Hinduism to other religions, in particular the Christianity.

However, the Supreme Court rejected the arguments put forward by the petitioner and ruled on the motion for an injunction filed by Hindu Dharma Parishad stating that it was unfounded.

It is rather interesting to know the reasoning behind the Supreme Court’s contrasting observations in two similar petitions concerning the management of religious activities in a secular state. While the petition to regulate Hindu temples is easily listed and the Supreme Court shows its eagerness to issue a notice. However, when it comes to regulating the missionary activities of the Church, the judiciary has once again turned a blind eye.


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