The Supreme Court’s recent observations in two similar cases, one concerning the management of a temple and another with monitoring activities of Christian missionaries, has raised apprehensions on the perils that the Hindus await.
Deciding on two similar cases, listed in a span of less than a week, the Supreme Court has given two differential interpretations on the very similar issue of managing religious places of two different faiths – one Hindu temple and the second being Christian missionaries. This has now intensified a debate on how Hindus have been left to be dependent on the courts to even practise their faith.
On March 19, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear a petition challenging the Madras High Court order that had dismissed a plea seeking appointment of a trustee committee headed by a retired judge in all Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu.
The petition filed by the Hindu activist group – ‘Hindu Dharma Parishad’ had sought appointment of Arangavalar Committee (Trustee Committee) headed by retired Judge in all Hindu temples with a social activist, a devotee, a scheduled caste and a woman as its members to manage the temples in Tamil Nadu.
A Supreme bench of justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari issued notice to the state of Tamil Nadu and others seeking their responses on the plea against the Madras High Court order. On December 9, the Madras High Court’s Madurai bench had dismissed Parishad’s writ seeking the similar relief.
Encouraged by the Supreme Court’s order that interfered in the management of Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu, the activist group – ‘Hindu Dharma Parishad’ filed another petition in the Supreme Court urging them to establish a board to make surveillance and monitor the activities of Christian missionaries in the country.
The petition filed by Parishad was almost similar to the one they had filed earlier asking to set up a committee to manage Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu, except this time it was Christian missionaries.
However, the Supreme Court intriguingly took a different stand in the matter as it refused to entertain a petition filed by a Hindu activist group. On March 25, just a week later after it had issued a notice in Hindu temples petition, the Supreme Court of India dismissed a petition filed by Hindu activist group – Hindu Dharma Parishad seeking to establish a board to make surveillance and monitor the activities of Christian Missionaries in the country.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and AS Bopanna had rejected the petition filed by Hindu Dharma Parishad, citing Madras High Court’s order, that stated the plea cannot be entertained as the jurisdiction lies within the state and there was an act in place that provides for prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by the use of force or allurement or by fraudulent means.
In its petition in the top court against the high court order, the petitioner argued that for the last few years, some anti-social elements and anti-nationals are forcibly converting people from Hinduism to other religions, especially Christianity.
However, the Supreme Court rejected the arguments made by the petitioner and had disposed of the writ petition filed by Hindu Dharma Parishad claiming that it had no merit.
It is rather interesting to know the rationale behind Supreme Court’s contrasting observations in two similar petitions concerning managing religious activities in a secular state. While the petition seeking to regulate Hindu temples gets easily listed and also Supreme Court exhibits its eagerness to issue notice. However, when it comes to regulating the missionary activities of the church, the judiciary has yet again turned a blind eye.