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SC notice to Kerala govt on plea for freeing Devaswom boards of govt control

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New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Friday sought response of the Kerala government and two Devaswom boards of the state on a plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking that such boards be made independent of government control.

A bench of justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph issued a notice to the Kerala government and Devaswom Board of Travancore and Cochin and sought their response in six weeks.

Swamy said that he was aggrieved by the Kerala High Court judgment refusing to strike down various sections of the Travancore- Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950.

He said that these sections of the Act were in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and also arbitrary.

In his plea, Swamy said that before the high court it was alleged arbitrariness in the process of nominations and elections of the members to the Travancore Devaswom Board and the Cochin Devaswom Board.

“The two Devaswom Boards administer most of the temples situated in the erstwhile Travancore – Cochin part of the present State of Kerala that includes Kollam, Trivandrum, Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur Districts in Kerala and part of Kanyakumari District in Tamil Nadu,” he said.

He said that petitioner T G Mohan Das had submitted before the high court that the method of nomination and appointment of the members to the two Devaswom boards are undemocratic and are in derogation of the fundamental religious and administrative rights of the devotees to be part of such process.

Swamy’s plea said that the high court erred in rejecting the contention that when a temple is taken over by the state government on the allegation of mismanagement, is it not incumbent on the government to return the management of the temple to its original owners on the evil being remedied.

He said that the entire Act including the provisions ought to have been struck down as the statute takes over the temples for an indefinite period.

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