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"Vague Statements" : Madras High Court Dismisses PIL Seeking Directions To Not Demolish Temples Which Existed As On August 15, 1947

Upasana Sajeev
29 May 2022 8:58 AM GMT
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The Madras High Court rejected a writ petition seeking directions to the State Government not to demolish any temple which existed as on 15 August 1947. The petitioner had relied on the provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 to state that the temples existing as on 15 August 1947 should not be demolished. However, the Court observed that the writ petition was filed with vague statements, without particulars about the temples.

"The vague statement of facts cannot be taken to be the basis for filing the writ petition or for its acceptance. Rather, it should be after proper research of the facts so as to bring the material on record to prove the statement of facts given in the writ petition. The petitioner has utterly failed to do so and filed the writ petition seeking directions without showing the name of the temples said to have been constructed on or before 15 August 1947 and suffered from the action of the nature indicated by the petitioner, without causing a notice or following the provisions the provisions of law", the Court observed.

The Court also noted that the names of the temples given in the writ petitioner were without required details such as when they were constructed and when the alleged action of demolition had taken place.

A division bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy observed that a writ petition can be maintained only when there is a cause of action. In the present case, the petitioner observed that the respondents were taking action to demolish temples that were more than 100 years old and despite them becoming heritage property.

The petitioner however did not submit any records for identifying the age of these temples. On the other hand, he relied on Section 63 of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious And Charitable Endowments Act 1959 and argued that an enquiry should be conducted by the Joint Commissioner or the Deputy Commissioner of the HR & CE Department to determine if any of the temples is more than hundred years old or constructed prior to 15 August 1947 and if so the same should not be demolished.

The cut off date of 14th August 1947 was taken by the petitioner in pursuance of Section 4 of the Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991. The provision was brought to prohibit conversion of the places of worship and provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as existed on 15 August 1947.

The court opined that the petition was filed for rowing or fishing enquiry which was not permissible in the public interest litigation. The court further held that when the petitioner has stated that the temple was more than a hundred years old, he had an obligation to disclose the facts for making such submissions and he cannot merely pass the buck to the respondents to find out the life of the temple. Further, there was nothing on record to show that the respondents had demolished temples that were more than 100 years old.

Thus, the court dismissed the petition with an option to the petitioner to come out with appropriate litigation if a specific cause is taken up showing illegality in the action of the respondent.

Case Title: Uma Anandan Kuppusamy Krishnamurthy v. The State of Tamil Nadu and Others

Case No: WP No 7590 of 2022

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 230

Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr Elephant G.Rajendran

Counsel for the Respondents: Advocate General Mr.R.Shunmugasundaram, Asstd. by Mr.NRR.Arun Natrajan Spl. Govt. Pleader (HR&CE), Mr.P.Muthukumar State Government Pleader, Ms. A. G. Shakeena, Mr.M.Karthikeyan

Click here to read/download the judgment

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