This Court cannot destroy such beliefs or hopes of the multitude of people, remarked the Madras High Court while dismissing a petition challenging the circular issued by the Commissioner of Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, Department to perform "yagnas" propagating rain, in all important temples under its control.
HR & CE Circular & Challenge
In the circular, the commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, directs to conduct Yagna 'so that the state may enjoy bountiful rain and attain prosperity'. V.Anbazhagan, Editor of "Makkal Seithi Maiyyam" and a social worker, approached the High Court challenging this circular on the ground that it is against the tenets of the Constitution of India and also against the concept of secularism followed by our country and violates the very objects and scope of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959. He also sought a direction to the state and HR&CE Department to develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform as per Article 51(a)(h) of the Constitution of India.
Invokes Justice Indu Malhotra's Observation In Sabarimala Judgment
The bench of Justice C.V.Karthikeyan and Justice Krishnan Ramasamy, in its order, makes reference to the judgment in Sabarimala case. It highlights the observations made in the judgment of Justice Dipak Misra (then CJI) that there are no restraints upon the free exercise of religion. Interestingly, Justice Indu Malhotra's observations in her dissenting opinion have also been widely reproduced in the judgment. The bench, referring to it, said:
"What emerges from the ratio laid down is that the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion is available and that there are no restraints upon the free exercise of religion and the Court cannot impose its morality or rationality with respect to the form of worship and it is irrelevant whether the practise is rational or logical. Notions of rationality cannot be invoked in matters of religion by Courts."
Court Cannot Destroy Hopes And Beliefs Of People
The bench further remarked that the present petition is an attempt to disturb the faith in the religious beliefs among the people, to bring about disruption in peace and harmony. It said:
"It is not for this Court to interfere with or criticize upon any method be it religious or scientific adopted with hope to bring about bountiful rainfall in the State by issuing the Circular. Whether such method of performing poojas or yagnas to bring about rain is a success or failure is not within the scope of examination by this Court in the writ petition. It is performed with hope and belief and though they may be successful or not, this Court cannot destroy such belief or hopes of the multitude of people."
It also observed that normally and consistently the Courts have kept away from interfering with religious practices and beliefs. The bench illustrated the idea by giving an example of a farmer:
"A farmer with a small piece of agricultural land, would not be able to grow any crop owing to lack of rainfall. He would hope and believe that rain would come some day to save him from the unfortunate situation in which he and his family have been forced to. Faith would lead to, in his limited knowledge, to perform poojas and invoke the benevolence of God to bring about rain. When such poojas are done by him, it would again lead to economic depravity. When however such poojas are performed in a temple close to his place, he would very willingly join with the belief and hope that the prayers would be answered. That faith which the farmer has, cannot be destroyed by this Court. That faith which the farmer has is strengthened by performing the poojas, which the State has encouraged through the impugned circular."
Dismissing the petition, the bench also clarified that it 'offers no opinion as to whether the practice is scientific in nature or purely religious in nature.'
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