The Supreme Court has declined to vacate its September 25 order directing the Tamil Nadu government to maintain existing conditions on the appointment of ‘Archakas’ (priests) in the temples governed by the ‘Agamic’ tradition.
On September 25, the top court ordered status quo regarding the appointment of ‘Archakas’ which as per the state government will halt the appointment of 2405 ‘Archakas’ in temples across the state.
A bench of Justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh said it prima facie did not agree to submissions of the Tamil Nadu government that the state was entitled to appoint ‘Archakas’.
“The appointment of ‘Archakas’ is a secular function and the state is entitled to appoint them,” the court was told by the counsel of Tamil Nadu.
The ‘Agamas’ are a collection of tantric literature of Hindu schools and there are three branches of such texts – ‘Shaiva, Vaishnava and Shakta’.
The court was hearing petitions alleging that the Tamil Nadu government is interfering with the hereditary scheme of appointing ‘Archakas’ in ‘Agama temples’ by allowing those from other denominations to become ‘Archakas’ after doing a one-year certificate course for ‘Archakas’ in schools run by the Tamil Nadu administration.
The bench, while fixing the matter for hearing on January 25, 2024, said it is not going to stay the pending proceedings before the Madras High Court on a similar issue.
The Stalin government has sought vacation of the top court’s September 25 order.
Earlier, the top court had issued notices to the Tamil Nadu government and others on a plea filed by ‘Srirangam Koil Miras Kainkaryaparagal Matrum Athanai Sarntha Koilgalin Miraskain-karyaparargalin Nalasangam’ – an association of ‘Archakas’.
The petition had sought direction to quash the July 27 order of the Tamil Nadu government and consequential orders alleging that the administration was attempting to interfere with the hereditary scheme of appointing ‘Archakas’.
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