Kopar Khairane
National

According to the Madras High Court, caste will not be a factor in the selection of priests

<p>The Madras High Court ruled on Monday that the selection of priests at temples would not be based on caste, and that the only need is that the candidate be knowledgeable, well trained, and prepared to conduct the pooja in accordance with the needs of the particular temple.</p>
<p><img decoding=”async” loading=”lazy” class=”alignnone wp-image-41453″ src=”https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/www.theindiaprint.com-according-to-the-madras-high-court-caste-will-not-be-a-factor-in-the-selection-of-priests-download-2023-06-27t062622.982-11zon.png” alt=”” width=”1263″ height=”664″ srcset=”https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/www.theindiaprint.com-according-to-the-madras-high-court-caste-will-not-be-a-factor-in-the-selection-of-priests-download-2023-06-27t062622.982-11zon.png 310w, https://www.theindiaprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/www.theindiaprint.com-according-to-the-madras-high-court-caste-will-not-be-a-factor-in-the-selection-of-priests-download-2023-06-27t062622.982-11zon-150×79.png 150w” sizes=”(max-width: 1263px) 100vw, 1263px” /></p>
<p>When ruling on a petition from 2018, Justice N Anand Venkatesh stated, “At the risk of repetition, it is made abundantly clear that the pedigree based on caste will have no role to play in the appointment of Archaka [priest] if the person so selected otherwise satisfies the requirements.”</p>
<p>The court decided the case after Muthu Subramania Gurukkal complained that a recruitment advertisement for priests at the Sri Sugavaneswarar Swamy Temple in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district in 2018 by the Tamil Nadu department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) violated his hereditary rights. Gurukkal, the petitioner, succeeded his grandpa as Sthanikam since his Sivachariyar family had been doing poojas from “time immemorial.”</p>
<p>Justice Venkatesh, while announcing the judgement, highlighted the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2016 All India Adi Saiva Sivachariargal Seva Sangam v. Government of Tamil Nadu case, in which the high court determined that choosing a temple priest is a secular role rather than a matter of inherited privilege. The Supreme Court had ruled that an Archaka’s religious service constitutes the secular component of their religion, and that performing their religious service is an essential component.</p>
<p>The court instructed the Executive Officer of the temple (third respondent) to issue an advertisement in accordance with the observations cited from the apex court, noting that there is no disputing the fact that the in question temple is an Agamic temple where the appointment of Archakas should be governed by the Agama. In addition, the court granted the petitioner freedom to take part in the screening process and allowed him to conduct poojas up to the appointments.</p>
<p>The court, however, dealt with the additional reasons brought forward by the petitioner in order to provide greater clarity on the appointments going forward. Using the top court’s 2016 ruling as precedent, the Madras high court declared: “Any person belonging to any caste or creed can be appointed as an Archaka, provided he is a well-versed and accomplished person in the Agamas and rituals necessary to be performed in a temple.”</p>
<p>The Supreme Court ruled that there is no need to demand that just a Brahmin (in this instance, a Malayali Brahmin) alone may execute the rites and ceremonies in N Adithayan v. Travancore Devaswom Board in 2022. The Madras high court said that the supreme court has disapproved of requiring a caste-based lineage in order to carry out the rites and ceremonies at a temple.</p>

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