Madras HC tells Tamil Nadu to appoint archakas as per Agama practice

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The Madras HC today ordered the government of Tamil Nadu to follow the Apex Court’s orders and appoint archakas as per the Agama practice. 

The DMK government, since returning to power last year, has been appointing archakas of all castes to temples maintained by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department.

Advocate General (AG) R Shanmugasundaram submitted that the Supreme Court had upheld appointment of non-hereditary archakas without looking into caste or creed, within the 1972 case of Seshammal et al. Vs TN government, which challenged an amendment introduced to the Religious Institutions Act.

In 2015 too, the apex court upheld the appointment of non-hereditary archakas complying with the Agama practice of temples, he said, adding that appointments are made by competent authorities — trustees or ‘fit persons’.

Following these submissions the primary bench of judge Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N Mala disposed of a batch of petitions challenging advertisements issued in July to appoint archakas to HR &CE temples and ordered that the apex court’s orders be strictly adhered to while making the appointments.

The HC directed the HRHR&CE department to search out out which agama is practised in a very particular temple, and appoint archakas accordingly. 

The judges also told the petitioners to approach the court with individual petitions if they felt aggrieved over any particular appointment. The petitioners included the All India Adi Saiva Sivacharyargal Seva Sangam. Meanwhile, the judges adjourned another batch of petitions challenging the Act regarding appointment of archakas.