Business Standard

No need for CISF to regulate devotees of Athivaradar: HC


Press Trust of India Chennai
The Madras High Court Monday ruled out deployment of CISF for security and refuted the argument that the Tamil Nadu police were not able to control the crowd to have darshan of Lord Athivaradar at the Devaraja Swamy temple in Kancheepuram.
A division bench of Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad disposed of different petitions on the deaths during the festival and lack of facilities at the temple, among other issues.
"It is stated that 34 lakh devotees have so far visited the temple and have had darshan," the bench said.
Therefore, the argument of the petitioners that the local police were not able to control the crowd and seeking CISF personnel does not hold water, it said.
The bench said some inconvenience would have been caused to the local people going by the rush of devotees during the 48-day old festival at the temple.
But to maintain law and order and public order, the bench said, the state government has to take reasonable precautions and steps which are in the interest of public even if they caused inconvenience to local residents and devotees.
Refusing to accept the arguments that local residents' vehicles were prohibited around the temple temporarily, the bench said it cant be said to be excessive regulation.
On the claim that darshan was restricted, the bench said, "Whether it is a part of religion or not and whether Article 25 of the Constitution of India has been affected by the temporary measure during these days, we have been taken through the route map of the temple and it has been stated that keeping in view of the crowd that assembles a decision has been taken to prohibit entry and to ensure smooth flow of devotees..."

Further, the bench said it is the government which has to regulate darshan and no binding precedent has been placed before the court that the right to have a glimpse of the Lord is a part of religion.
Observing that it can only be a practice of a person to go to the temple to worship, the bench said,"It does not form an integral part of the religion to go to the temples, making it a fundamental right."

The judges said, "We further observe during festivals, when large number of devotees assemble, the state should be given the freedom of action to regulate the timings, days of darshan in the temple."

The bench, while refuting the argument that not allowing to worship the Lord is violative of rule 8,9, of the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947, said, "The rule has no relevance to the decision of the government to regulate the entry of devotees for a period of 48 days."

The Tamil Nadu government had informed the Madras High Court earlier that six devotees believed to have died in a stampede during the Lord Athivaradar festival lost their lives due to some other reason.
The six devotees at the Devarajaswamy temple, where the festival was held, collapsed after completing the darshan in an area where there was no crowd, the additional advocate general had said, opposing five PILs alleging lack of crowd management and provision of basic amenities for those visiting the shrine.

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First Published: Jul 29 2019 | 9:50 PM IST

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