Madras High Court Refuses To Order Action Against Irrigation Officer Who Asked Employees To Perform Special Poojas In Temples For Inducing Rain

Upasana Sajeev

21 Feb 2024 6:00 AM GMT

  • Madras High Court Refuses To Order Action Against Irrigation Officer Who Asked Employees To Perform Special Poojas In Temples For Inducing Rain

    The Madras High Court has recently dismissed a plea seeking action against the Chief Engineer, Water Resources Organisation who had issued a circular asking his subordinates to perform special poojas in important temples for getting rain. Referring to a Government Order, the bench of Justice D Krishnakumar and Justice R Vijayakumar noted that the GO had not prohibited any authority to...

    The Madras High Court has recently dismissed a plea seeking action against the Chief Engineer, Water Resources Organisation who had issued a circular asking his subordinates to perform special poojas in important temples for getting rain.

    Referring to a Government Order, the bench of Justice D Krishnakumar and Justice R Vijayakumar noted that the GO had not prohibited any authority to ask his subordinates to conduct pooja. The court further noted that what the GOs had prohibited was the practice of worship in the office premises.

    β€œThe allegation of the petitioner is that contrary to the Government Order and directions issued by this Court, the fourth respondent has issued a circular to his subordinate to conduct poojas in the temples for getting rain. However, G.O.Ms.No.426, dated 13.12.1993, does not prohibit any authority from directing his subordinates to conduct poojas in temples, on the other hand, it deals with the practice of worship by Government staff in the office premises alone. In such circumstances, we find no merit in this writ petition,” the court observed.

    The petitioner, N Ilango had prayed for directions to the Chief Secretary, Secretary (Public Works Department), and the Chief Executive Engineer Public Works Department to take action against the Chief Engineer.

    Ilango had argued that as per a Government Order issued by the Personnel & Administration Reforms (PER-A) Department, a specific instruction was issued to all Head of Departments/District Collector/ Head of Office to ensure that no construction of any new structure for religious worship or prayer is permitted in the office campus and to neither permit enlargement or modification of the existing structure.

    Ilango also pointed out an earlier order of the Madras High Court in which the court had asked the authorities to ensure proper implementation of the directions issued in the GO and to maintain communal harmony in Government Offices.

    Ilango thus argued that the Chief Engineer's circular was violative of the Government Order and the subsequent directions of the High Court and warranted appropriate action.

    The Secretary, Public Works Department opposed the plea and submitted that prayers were being conducted by the Department for the past several years worshipping nature and not the god of any particular religion. It was submitted that the circular was issued following the same practice and it was neither unconstitutional nor unlawful. It was also submitted that the circular did not violate any religious beliefs, or faith or degrade the scientific temperament and did not warrant action.

    The court, on going through the language of the GO, noted that it prohibited the construction of a new structure or modifying the existing structure for religious worship. Thus, the court noted that the circular was not prohibited and no action could be taken for the same.

    Counsel for the Petitioner: Ms.G.Uma Maheswari for Mr.D.Veerasekaran

    Counsel for the Respondents: Mr.T.Amjadkhan Government Advocate for R1 to R3

    Citation: 2024 LiveLaw (Mad) 78

    Case Title: N Ilango v The Chief Secretary

    Case No: W.P.(MD) No.9550 of 2015

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