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‘Temples meant for deities, not individuals considered godmen’: Petition before Madras HC to remove Sai Baba idols from Tamil Nadu HR&CE temples

D Sureshbabu stated that Sai Baba preached both Islam and Hinduism and that the installation of his idol in a Hindu temple contradicted 8th-century Shaivite principles.

On Tuesday (25th June), the Madras High Court issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department in connection to a petition to remove idols of Sai Baba from government-controlled Hindu temples. 

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed before the Madras High Court by a resident of Coimbatore named D Suresh Babu. He cited a previous judgment and contended that devotees of Sai Baba belonged to all Faiths and not just Hinduism.

He argued that Sai Mandirs are not exclusively meant for worship by Hindus. D Suresh Babu stated that Sai Baba preached both Islam and Hinduism and that the installation of his idol in a Hindu temple contradicted 8th-century Shaivite principles.

The petitioner further added that keeping idols of Sai Baba in 7-8 temples, run by the HR&CE Department, alongside that of Hindu deities violated Agama principles and hurt the sentiments, beliefs and customs of the Hindu community.

In his petition, D Suresh Babu pointed out that the HR&CE Department should have taken appropriate steps to prevent the installation of idols of individuals who are considered Godmen.

He sought the removal of Sai Baba idols from temples, which are under the direct and indirect control of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department.

“My prayer is that all idols of godmen, including Sai Baba, in temples under HR&CE should be removed. Private temples can do whatever they want. But can HR&CE temples have idols of godmen,” the counsel for the petitioner argued,” the PIL read.

On hearing the arguments in the case, a 2-judge Bench of Justice Mohammed Shaffiq and Acting Chief Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq issued notice to the Department.

The Tamil Nadu government controls 36635 temples, 45 mutts, 68 temples attached to mutts, 189 charitable endowments, 1721 specific endowments and 17 Jain temples.

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