IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.10620 OF 2013
Dr. Subramanian Swamy …Appellant
State of Tamil Nadu & Ors. …Respondents
The appellant has raised the issue of violation of the constitutional rights protected under Article 26 of the Constitution of India, 1950 (hereinafter referred to as ‘Constitution’) in relation to the claim by Podhu Dikshitars (Smarthi Brahmins) to administer the properties of the Temple in question dedicated to Lord Natraja. The same gains further importance as it also involves the genesis of such pre-existing rights even prior to the commencement of the Constitution and the extent of exercise of State control under the statutory provisions of The Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1951 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act 1951’) as well as the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1959 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act1959’)Civil Appeal No. 10621/2013 is on behalf of Podhu Dikshitars claiming the same relief and Civil Appeal No. 10622/2013 has been filed by the appellants supporting the claim of the appellant in Civil Appeal No. 10621/2013.For convenience in addressing the parties and deciding the appeals, we have taken Civil Appeal No. 10620/2013 as the leading appeal.
The facts and circumstances giving rise to the appeal are asunder:
- That Sri Sabhanayagar Temple at Chidambaram (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Temple’) is in existence since times immemorial and had been administered for a long time by Podhu Dikshitars (all male married members of the families of Smarthi Brahmins who claim to have been called for the establishment of the Temple in the name of Lord Natraja).
- The State of Madras enacted the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1927 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act1927’), which was repealed by the Act 1951. A NotificationNo.G.O.Ms.894 dated 28.8.1951 notifying the Temple to be subjected to the provisions of Chapter VI of the Act 1951 was issued. The said notification enabled the Government to promulgate a Scheme for the management of the Temple.
- In pursuance to the same, the Hindu Religious Endowments Board, Madras (hereinafter called the ‘Board’) appointed an Executive Officer for the management of the Temple in 1951 vide order dated 28.8.1951 etc.
- The Dikshitars, i.e. respondent no.6 and/or their predecessors in interest challenged the said orders dated 28.8.1951 and 31.8.1951 by filing Writ Petition nos. 379-380 of 1951 before the Madras High Court which were allowed vide judgment and order dated 13.12.1951quashing the said orders, holding that the Dikshitars constituted a ‘religious denomination’ and their position vis-à-vis the Temple was analogous to muttadhipati of a mutt; and the orders impugned therein were violative of the provisions of Article 26 of the Constitution….read more