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SC Directs Status Quo Maintenance in Plea Against Non-Hereditary Trustees for Sree Emoor Bhagavathy Temple

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Priyanka Singh

Published on: September 14, 2022 at 21:04 IST

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued directions to maintain status quo in a plea challenging a Malabar Devaswom Board Notification inviting applications for the positions of the non-hereditary trustees at Palakkad’s Sree Emoor Bhagvathy Temple.

The bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia passed an order on the appeal filed by two hereditary temple trustees claiming an error in Kerala High Court’s decision of rejecting their cases.

The plea submitted that the Commissioner of the Board failed to demonstrate that the institution’s affairs were less likely to be properly managed by the petitioners, except that they were older in age.

The petition stated, “The age of the hereditary trustee is not a disqualification and it cannot constitute a valid reason to appoint nonhereditary trustees. The hereditary trustees are capable of discharging their functions.”

The Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act (HR&CE Act) requires hereditary trustees to be given notice and a hearing before the non-hereditary trustees are appointed.

On the contrary, no such notice was given to the hereditary trustees and no hearing was held before the Commissioner issued the notification, as submitted by the petitioners.

It was claimed that the Act allows for the appointment of non-hereditary trustees only on the availability of the proof based on the enquiry into the incapability of the hereditary trustees to manage the institution appropriately, whereas, no such enquiry had been conducted.

The plea contended that, “All annual festivals and intermittent festivals are conducted under the auspicious of hereditary trustees with their proactive support of Palakkattussery Sevana Samajam which is the body corporate of royal family members nominating hereditary trustees.”

“In the absence of such a finding or report, it is highly improper and egregious to appoint nonhereditary trustees”.

The petitioners prayed to be heard and claimed a clean record of them managing the institution and that the board attempted to control the temple’s affairs by the appointment of such non-hereditary trustees.