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Harish V Nair | Senior Editor (Legal), Times Now | New Delhi | Oct 20, 2020:: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy has moved the Supreme Court against Uttarakhand High Court judgment of July 21, 2020, dismissing his plea which challenged state government’s takeover of the Char Dham and 51 other shrines through the formation of the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board.
The court, which upheld the validity of the Devasthanam Act ruled that state will have ownership of temples and the Board will have the power of administration and management of the properties.
Char Dham shrines include Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
Swamy had argued that the worshippers at these Dhams belonged to a separate religious denomination so had right to own the shrines, manage and administer them.
But HC ruled that believers including those of the Shaivite and Vaishnavite forms of worship are not denominational worshippers.
After Swamy moved SC, two NGOs – People for Dharma and Indic Collective – who were in the forefront of Sabarimala matter also moved SC challenging the Uttarakhand HC judgment through advocate Suvidutt Sundaram who questioned the secular state’s action of entrenching itself into the role of managing everything under the sun.
Swamy in his petition argues that the entire scheme and context of the Act negates any freedom or autonomy to religious communities or denominations to administer or manage the temple.
The petition also added that the government is in violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens and denominations including Hindu Citizens and denominations under Articles 25, 26, and 29(1) of the Constitution of India.
Swamy in his petition has said the actions of the state government make a mockery of the constitutional principles and abuse of the legal process and statuary power and vitiated by malafide and extraneous considerations.
Swamy has argued that it was wrong on the part of HC to rule that believers including those of the Shaivite and Vaishnavite forms of worship are not denominational worshippers
HC refused to recognise Sanatan Dharma as a Hindu denominational sect.
The court observed that the “Hindu dharma is said to be ‘Sanatana’, i.e. one which has eternal values: one which is neither time-bound nor space bound.” Since all Hindus, by and large, have faith in Sanatan Dharma, they cannot be equated to any religious denomination.
Citing the Sabrimala judgment (2018), the court observed that Hindu. No caste or sub-caste or sect of the Hindu religion, who worship mainly a particular deity or god, can be termed as a religious denomination.
Swamy argued that the High Court erred in upholding the validity and constitutionality of the Devasthanam Act “since its provisions are arbitrary and violative of the Fundamental Rights of all devotees of the Chhota Char Dham shrines.”
Courtesy: Times Now.
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