Court invalidates the appointment of Executive Officer for the administration of Sri Sabhanayagar Temple

Supreme Court– In the instant case,,the Bench of B.S Chauhan and S.A. Bobde, JJ., ruled that the appointment of the Executive Officer for the administration of the Sri Sabhanayagar Temple is not valid as the order of appointment of the Executive Officer does not disclose the reasons and the circumstances that necessiated his appointment nor the order prescribes the period of its operation, therefore it is arbitrary,illegal and unjust.

As per the facts the Commissioner of Religious Endowment in exercise of his powers under Section 45 of Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 appointed an Executive Officer for the administration of the temple and orders were consequently passed defining his duties and powers. The appointment was challenged by the respondents on grounds of violation of Fundamantal Rights under Article 26 of the Constitution.  Subramanian Swamy appearing in person raised the issue of violation of Article 26 of the Constitution, in relation to the claim by Podhu Dikshitars to administer the properties of the Temple in question. He further contended that rules have to be framed definig the circumstances in which the power under Section 45 is to be exercised. The respondents were represented by Subramonium Prasad, AAG.  

The issues involved were that whether the Dikshitars constitute a religious denomination and whether they have a right to participate in the administration of the Temple upon which the Court said that both the issues were already determined by the Madras High Court. On perusing Section 45 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959, the Court said that when the term prescribed has not been defined under the Act then the same would mean to be prescribed in accordance with law and not otherwise, therefore, a particular power can be exercised only if a specific enacting law or statutory rules have been framed for that purpose. The Court further stated that even if the management of a temple is taken over to remedy the evil, the management must be handed over to the person concerned immediately after the evil stands remedied and continuation thereafter would amount to usurpation of proprietary rights or violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution in favour of the persons deprived. Therefore, taking over of the management in such circumstances must be for a limited period. Thus, such expropriatory order requires to be considered strictly as it infringes fundamental rights of the citizens and would amount to divesting them of their legitimate rights to manage and administer the temple for an indefinite period. The Court concluded that the impugned Order for appointment of the Executive Officer has been non- speaking with regard to circumstances of his appointment therefore unsustainable. Dr. Subramanian Swamy v. State of Tamilnadu, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 17

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