Kerala on Wednesday opposed the plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, seeking to make two Devaswom boards --Travancore and Cochin -- independent of government control.
In an affidavit filed before a bench of Justices U U Lalit and Indira Banerjee, the state government said the petition needs to be dismissed with costs as it is devoid of merit.
"There is no arbitrariness in the process of nominations and election to the Travancore and Cochin Devaswom Boards and the same is done in good faith adhering to the principles and letter and spirit laid out in the Act that has been enacted as per the covenant signed by the Maharaja of Travancore and Cochin with the representative of Indian union and after weighing scrupulously all the options by the legislatures," the affidavit said.
On October 12, last year, the apex court had sought response of the Kerala government and two Devaswom boards on the plea by Swamy.
Swamy said that he was aggrieved by the Kerala High Court judgment refusing to strike down various sections of the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950.
He had said that these sections of the Act were in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and also arbitrary.
In his plea, Swamy said that before the high court it was alleged arbitrariness in the process of nominations and elections of the members to the Travancore Devaswom Board and the Cochin Devaswom Board.
"The two Devaswom Boards administer most of the temples situated in the erstwhile Travancore - Cochin part of the present State of Kerala that includes Kollam, Trivandrum, Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur Districts in Kerala and part of Kanyakumari District in Tamil Nadu," he said in his plea.
Swamy said that petitioner T G Mohan Das had submitted before the high court that the method of nomination and appointment of the members to the two Devaswom boards are undemocratic and are in derogation of the fundamental religious and administrative rights of the devotees to be part of such process.
Swamy's plea said that the high court erred in rejecting the contention that when a temple is taken over by the state government on the allegation of mismanagement, is it not incumbent on the government to return the management of the temple to its original owners on the evil being remedied.
He had said that the entire Act including the provisions ought to have been struck down as the statute takes over the temples for an indefinite period.
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