19 Sep 2022 2:33 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice in an appeal filed by Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee assailing the order of the High Court of Kerala where it was held that the Committee had no authority to donate money to the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund and it amounts to violation of Guruvayoor Devaswom Act, 1978.The bench of Chief Justice of India U. U. Lalit, Justice Ajay Rastogi...
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice in an appeal filed by Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee assailing the order of the High Court of Kerala where it was held that the Committee had no authority to donate money to the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund and it amounts to violation of Guruvayoor Devaswom Act, 1978.
The bench of Chief Justice of India U. U. Lalit, Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat ordered status quo in the matter and stayed the operation of the judgment and order passed by the High Court of Kerala.
Senior Advocates Aryama Sundaram, R Venkatramani and Standing Counsel Jishnu ML appeared for the Devaswom.
It was submitted by the petitioner-Devaswom Board in the petition that "between 1st June and August 2018 the State of Kerala experienced the worst ever floods in its history since 1924 and during that period the state received 40% more rainfall than the normal average which affected 5.5 million people, displaced 1.4 million people and taken 433 lives, lakhs of houses were damaged, over three million people were moved to relief camps, large stretches of major roads got washed away and many bridges were damaged."
In the wake of the unprecedented natural calamity, the Guruvayoor Devaswom Managing Committee held a meeting and took a decision to contribute Rs. One crore towards the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund for flood relief. Later in another meeting it was decided by the Committee to increase the contribution from One Crore to Five Crore and then the amount was transferred to the CMDRF.
It was pointed out that this decision of the Committee was challenged before the High Court by one of the devotees before the High Court and the Division Bench dismissed the matter. Thereafter another devotee filed a petition stating that the order passed is per incuriam since it was passed without considering the earlier judgment of Kerala High Court in C. K. Ranjan vs State of Kerala.
The petitioner in the petition submitted that, "The Division Bench after considering the decisions of Kerala High Court and Supreme Court in C.K Rajan's case came to a conclusion that the question whether a donation made by the Guruvayoor Devaswam to CMDRF should be directed to be returned with interest in view of Section 27 of the Act was not considered by the Apex Court though the appeal against the decision in C.K.Rajan's case was dismissed and therefore referred the matter to the Full Bench of the High Court for an authoritative decision on the same."
In the meanwhile, another contribution was made by the temple committee during the time of COVID-19 pandemic, against which various writ petitions were filed by the devotees and Hindu Organizations. The matter was taken up by the full bench of the High Court and by the impugned order held that, "the Guruvayoor Devaswom Managing Committee has no authority to donate money to CMDRF and the same amounts to the violation of the Gurvayoor Devaswom Act, 1978."
It was also submitted in the petition that "Section 27(d) would clearly clothe the Devaswom Committee with the powers to have made such donations. These were, however, dismissed by the High Court holding that Section 27(d) would have no application without considering the vast materials placed on record."
Quoting the Bhagvat Gita, it was stated in the petition that Lord Krishna, the presiding deity of the Temple, has described 26 virtues to be followed by Human Beings among which is the virtue of Daanam or charity to the needy. It was thus submitted that, "any acts which are in tune with the tenets and Philosophy of the Sree Krishna, the presiding deity, would naturally be the Tenet and Philosophy of the Temple and any act which promotes it would take within its sweep of Section 27 of the GD Act, 1978."
The petition also pointed out that, "If the narrow interpretation adopted by the Full Bench of the Hon'ble High Court is accepted various donations made by Temples and other religious organisations to CMDRF of various states and PM Care fund will be questioned."
Case Title :Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee and Anr. vs. Bijesh Kumar M and Ors. - SLP (C) 21252/21262/2021
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