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Madras HC Prohibits Use of Mobile Phones Inside Temples in Order to Preserve Temple’s Sanctity and Purity 

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Madras High court law insider

Akansha Upadhyay

Published on – 03 December 2022 at 20:34 IST

While directing the Tamil Nadu government to impose a ban against the use of mobile phones inside temple premises in the state of Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court observed that though Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to freedom of religion, same is subject to regulations inside the temple premises.

The bench comprised of, Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Satya Narayan Prasad of the Madurai bench observed that, “There cannot be any dispute that under Article 25 of the Constitution, all persons are entitled to freely profess, practice religion. And propagate However, such freedom to act and practise can be subject to regulations, inside the premises of the temple.”

“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 decency of worship and sanctity of temple is maintained.”

The petitioner Seetharaman was one of the three groups of archakas at the Sree Subramaniam Swamy Temple.  He submitted that worshipers take pictures and videos inside the temple premises which is against the Agama rules.

Besides, it also jeopardizes the security of the temple and its valuables. The petitioner also stated that there was an apprehension that photographs of women devotees would be taken without their consent and would be misused.

The court observed that under Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Temple Entrance Authority Act, 1947, the trustee or authority in-charge of the temple was empowered to frame rules for the maintenance of order and decorum of the temple.

The Tamil Nadu Temple Admission Authority Act, 1947 also lays down certain code of conduct for maintaining order and decorum in the temple apart from the rules made by the trustee or authority.

Citing examples of ban on use of mobile phones in other temples like Sree Krishna Temple in Guruvayur, Meenakshi Temple Amman and Madurai Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati and tracing the religious history of Subramaniam Swamy Temple.

The court court opined that such similar restrictions could be imposed in the subject temple also. Safe deposit counters could be created for depositing mobile phones and preventing the usage the cell phones inside the temple premises to maintain the decorum and the sanctity of the temple.

The court observed that such restrictions is subject can also be planted in the temple to maintain the sanctity and sanctity of the temple, safe deposit counters may be made to deposit mobile phones inside the temple premises and prevent the use of cell phones.

“It is the grievance of the petitioner that using cell phones by the people others and affects the purity of the deity, besides endangering the safety of the devotees and security of the temple and its valuables.”

“Therefore, the respondent authorities will have to take steps to prohibit the usage of cell phones inside the premises of the temple, so as to preserve the sanctity and security of the temple, apart from ensuring safety of the devotees”

In this regard, the Executive Officer of the subject temple informed the court that it has taken steps to ban the use of cell phones by priests, devotees, public and others inside the temple; appoint self-help groups to monitor cell phone use & set up security counters to deposit cell phones.

The court also directed the commissioner of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Department to follow the instructions to maintain the sanctity and purity of the temples in all the temples in Tamil Nadu.

Case Title: M Seetharaman v. The Commissioner HR & CE and Anr.