Madras High Court: In a petition filed under Article 226 praying to issue a writ of mandamus directing the respondents to take effective measures to prohibit the possession and usage of Android Cell Phones inside the Sri Subramania Swamy Temple, Tiruchendur, Thoothukudi District, a Division Bench of R. Mahadevan and J. Sathya Narayana Prasad JJ., directed the respondent authorities to implement the restrictions imposed for the usage of cell phones by the priest, devotees, public and others inside the temple; appoint self-help groups to supervise the usage of cell phones; and set up security counters for deposit of cell phones.
It is the grievance of the petitioner that using cell phones by the people / devotees inside the premises of the subject temple, causes inconvenience to others and affects the purity of the deity, besides endangering the safety of the devotees and the security of the temple and its valuables.
The Court noted that the subject temple viz., Arulmigu Subramaniya Swamy Temple, Tiruchendur, as described by various texts, is one of the six abodes of Lord Muruga. It is an ancient temple situated on the shores of the Bay of Bengal.
The Court further noted that the Agamas prescribe the rules regarding the rituals to be followed in the worship services at the temple. According to the same, the temple authorities should ensure that the decency of worship and the sanctity of the temple is maintained. Therefore, the usage of mobile phones and cameras inside the premises, which diverts the attention of the devotees from the purpose of visiting the temple, can be regulated by the authorities concerned.
The Court observed that a ban on mobile phones has been introduced and successfully implemented in temples across the country to prevent nuisance to devotees. Sri Krishna Temple at Guruvayur, Meenakshi Amman Temple at Madurai, and Sri Venkateshwara Temple at Tirupati are a few examples where the ban on mobile phones is in force effectively.
The Court opined that similar steps can be taken in the subject temple viz., Arulmigu Subramaniya Swamy Temple, Tiruchendur, as well by creating safety deposit counters for mobile phones and preventing the usage of cell phones inside the premises, to maintain decorum and sanctity of the temple.
The Executive Officer / Joint Commissioner, Subramaniya Swamy Temple submitted an affidavit which stated that steps have already been taken to impose restrictions for the usage of cell phones by the priest, devotees, public, and others inside the temple; appoint self-help groups to supervise the usage of cell phones; and set up security counters for deposit of cell phones.
Thus, the Court held that all effective measures for the ban on mobile phones, decent dress code, etc. inside the premises of the subject temple have already been taken and directed the authorities to implement the conditions sought and submitted in letter and spirit.
[M. Seetharaman v. The Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department, 2022 SCC OnLine Mad 5656, decided on 02-12-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioner: Mr. M.C. Swamy;
For Respondents: Mr. P. Subbaraj, SGP (R1);
Mr. M. Muthugeethayan, standing counsel (R2).
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.