Madras High Court DB quashes Dress Code for Temple Entry [Read Judgment]

Madras High Court DB quashes Dress Code for Temple Entry [Read Judgment]


Courts are not entitled to create a controversy and adjudicate upon the same, said the DB


A Division Bench of Madras High Court has set aside the Single Judge’s Order prescribing dress Code for devotees to enter Temples in Tamil Nadu. The Bench comprising of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and K. Ravichandrabaabu held that

“Courts are not expected to adjudicate any matter academically in the absence of any real lis between parties. Courts are not entitled to create a controversy and adjudicate upon the same. Therefore we respectfully disagree with the directions issued by the single judge and we are constrained to set aside the same and reserve it for an occasion, when a real litigation comes before us”.  

It was in November 2015, Justice S. Vaidyanathan prescribed the dress code for men, women and even children to visit temples maintained by Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department across the State.

In the impugned Order, Dhoti or pyjamas with upper cloth was prescribed for men where as for women saree or half saree with blouse, churidhars with upper cloth were prescribed. Any fully covered dress was sufficed for children. In the order the Single Judge had also directed that the police should not allow devotees inside any Hindu Temple, who wear Bermudas, shorts, miniskirts, middies, sleeveless tops, low waist jeans, short length T- shirts etc.

Allowing the Appeal the Division Bench held as follows;

“…reason stated by the single judge to justify the order runs contrary to the word of caution sent by the apex court in ‘Meerut Development Authority case’, which said, “it would seem to us it would be wise for the courts not to venture into this unchartered minefield. We are not exercising our will. We cannot impose our values on society. Any such effort would mean to make value judgments. This illustrates the danger of judges wrongly, though unconsciously, substituting their own views with the views of the decision- maker, who alone is charged and authorised by law to exercise discretion”.

 “Prescribing a dress code for the devotees worshipping in temples was not an issue which arose directly or indirectly in the petition. There was no prayer by the petitioner seeking the prescription of a dress code. The petition had practically become infructuous, as the main relief claimed was granted and that order had also been complied with. Therefore, there was nothing in the petition to be further adjudicated.”

Read the Judgment here.