SC does not revoke its status quo order on archakaship in Agamish temples in Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court on Wednesday neither lifted nor modified its September 25 injunction status quo in Archakaship in temples ruled by ancient Agamas in Tamil Nadu.

The status quo The order was passed on the basis of a series of petitions alleging that the Tamil Nadu government was trying to appoint “infidels” as archakas (priests), which was contrary to the Agamas (post-Vedic scriptures that impart ritual knowledge). ) stands.

“Let ours status quo Continue the order. The sky will not fall,” Justice MM Sundresh said on a bench presided over by Justice AS Bopanna, listing the case for January 25, 2024.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, urged the court to quash the stay order.

Mr. Dave said this status quo The order would freeze the filling of 2,405 Archakaship vacancies in the Agamish temples. Additionally, this would impact the training required for people who have completed courses at the Archaka Training School.

“This will create major difficulties in conducting poojas in Agamic temples,” Mr. Dave pointed out.

The state government had submitted an urgent application for temporary leave of absence status quo Petitions filed by several parties, including the All India Adi Saiva Sivacharyargal Seva Association, represented by senior advocates Guru Krishnakumar, P. Valliappan and advocate G. Balaji, ordered quashing of directions issued by the state government in July and August to “persons in the conduct of to train”. Poojas/ceremonies/rituals, as opposed to the Agamas”.

Senior advocates CS Vaidyanathan and Vikas Singh, also for the petitioners against the state government, said the Tamil Nadu government had virtually taken over the management of the Agama temples by “appointing and transferring Archakas”.

“Appointments are a secular function”

Mr Dave replied that appointments were a secular function that belonged to the government. He said the appointments were made in accordance with the Agamas. The status quo He argued that the order went beyond the scope of the relief sought in the Supreme Court petitions.

The state stated that its intention was that “all Hindus, irrespective of caste and creed, who are educated and qualified, may be appointed as Archakas under the control of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department.”

The state said the curriculum and duration of training were based on the suggestions of a high-level committee headed by former Madras High Court judge Justice AK Rajan.

Interview committee for each temple

The application filed by the state clarified that an interview committee has been constituted for each temple to select suitable candidates for appointment of Archakas.

“The applicants will be interviewed by the most experienced Sivachariyars/Bhattachariyars/Agama experts/Archakas. “The department will never compromise in selecting qualified and experienced persons for conducting poojas,” the state claimed.

It was argued that the Agama does not prescribe any qualification, age, mode of selection, retirement etc. In this regard, the procedures prescribed in Rules 7 and 9 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious Institutions Employees (Conditions of Service) Rules 2020 should be followed.

“TN guidelines against SC verdicts”

On the other hand, the petitions argued that the state’s policies conflicted with the Supreme Court’s own rulings, which had upheld the rights of religious denominations. The top court had ruled that the Agamas of the temples should be strictly followed while appointing Archakas.

The petitioners have also urged the Supreme Court to constitute a committee headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court in the interest of justice to undertake the task of identifying the Agamish temples in Tamil Nadu.

“It is believed that any violation of Agarnas defiles the images of the gods and brings bad luck to the devotees. According to the Agamas, only the Sivachariyars/Gurukkals/Adi Saivars/Battars and Pancharatra and Vaikhanasa Battachariyars denominations are authorized to perform the poojas in Saivite and Vaishnavite temples respectively. This is in accordance with the specific Agamas that govern each temple. “This practice has always been fashionable,” the petitioners argued.

The petitions accused Tamil Nadu of repeated attempts to “snatch” religious rights.

“Of the approximately 38,000 temples in the state of Tamil Nadu, only around 3,600 have existed for over 1,000 years and are strictly governed by agamas and traditions. In the remaining 35,000 temples, denominations have no right to conduct poojas,” the petitioners claim.

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