The Kerala High Court, on Thursday (26 May 2022), dismissed review petitions filed against its judgment which held that Guruvayoor Devaswom Managing Committee has no authority to contribute any amount from the Devaswom Funds to Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund or to any other Governmental agency.
The Full bench comprising Justices Anu Sivaraman, Shircy V. and M.R. Anitha pronounced the judgment today dismissing Review Petitions filed by the State Government.
In December 2020, a full bench of Justices A. Hariprasad, Anu Sivaraman and M.R. Anitha had held that all the properties, including movable and immovable properties and money, dedicated to or endowed in the name of Lord Guruvayurappan or any property acquired in any manner by Guruvayur Devaswom shall vest in the idol of Lord Guruvayurappan, consecrated in Sree Krishna Temple, Guruvayur. This judgment was delivered while answering a reference on this issue by a Division bench of the High Court. The State had filed Review Petitions against this judgment.
In review petitions, the State contended that as donations are intended to help the needy people including Guruvayur worshippers and pilgrims who faced extreme difficulties, the decisions of G.D.M.C are strictly in tune with Section 27 read with the duties of the Devaswom under Section 10(b) and (g) of the Act of 1978. The court noted that that there was no requisition by the National Authority or State Executive Committee or District authority to the G.D.M.C for any donation of funds to meet the contingency/emergency
The bench also refused to consider the contention that the Government cannot be compelled to refund the amounts voluntarily donated to the account of C.M.D.R.F. with interest.
"We notice that there is no such direction, issued by the Full Bench and the Full Bench has only answered the question with regard to the power of the G.D.M.C. to make the donation to the C.M.D.R.F. Moreover, we also notice that the said arguments raised by the learned Special Government Pleader does not find a place in the pleadings raised in the review petition. We, therefore, find it unnecessary to consider the said contention.", the court said.
Yet another contention raised by State was that the Full Bench committed an error by holding that the scope of Section 27(c) of the Act 1978 cannot be widened so as to provide medical relief, water supply and other sanitary arrangements for the worshippers and pilgrims, located away from a reasonable distance of the temple premises. In this regard, the court observed:
"It has to be noted that on sound reasoning based on the provisions of the Act, the Full Court observed that Section 27(c) consists of 2 parts, of which first clause deals with the medical relief, water supply and sanitary arrangements for the worshippers and pilgrims and the second clause relates to the construction of the building for their accommodation. Therefore, the 1st part cannot be detached from the 2nd part which relates to the construction for accommodation of the pilgrims. The plain language of the provision gives a definite meaning that, it is to provide convenient accommodation for the worshippers when they visit the temple to offer prayers. Providing convenient accommodation to pilgrims and worshippers are, to facilitate them to offer prayers in the temple and for that constructions are required. Obviously, the said clause cannot be treated as one meant for the benefit of worshippers of lord Guruvayurappan as millions of worshippers are residing all over the country. It would be too far-fetched to give such an interpretation to the said clause. Devotees who repose faith on lord Guruvayurappan are spread all over the country. Therefore, the scope of Section 27(c) cannot be widened as pointed out by the learned Government Pleader for the State. If the contention of the learned Government Pleader is accepted, it will be against the principles of precedent in view of the ratio in C.K Rajan's case. (See State of U.P. v Ajay Kumar Sharma (2016)15 SCC 289".
The court also observed that a review jurisdiction is very narrow and limited and reconsideration or reappreciation or rehearing of matter on merits are not permitted. None of the reasons projected in support of the review petitions would make out any error apparent on the face of the record to justify an interference by exercising the review jurisdiction, the Court said.
State Of Kerala vs Bijesh Kumar M. | 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 244 | RP 378 OF 2021 |
Coram: Justices Anu Sivaraman, Shircy V. and M.R. Anitha