'Not in terms of Agama': Madras High Court Sets Aside Appointments of Temple Archakas

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Court found the appointees did not belong to the denomination of Adi Saivars/Sivachariyars/Gurukkals which was a prerequisite as per Agamas for appointment as an Archaka in the concerned temple. 


The Madras High Court recently quashed the appointment of three Archakas in Arulmighu Subramaniya Swamy Thirukoil temple in Trichy. The court held that the appointments were not in terms of the Agama.

The bench of Justice GR Swaminathan observed that the said temple is governed by Kamika Agama, therefore, only Adi Saivars/Sivachariyars/Gurukkals who have gained knowledge in the Agamas alone are eligible and qualified to be appointed as Archakas for the said temple.

Court underscored that despite this, the appointees who do not belong to the denomination of Adi Saivars/Sivachariyars/Gurukkals had been appointed as Archakas in the said temple. 

Therefore, the court set aside the order of appointment.

Court was hearing two pleas that had been filed challenging the appointment of one Thiru.K.Kailash, S.Prabu and S.Jayabalan to the post of Archakar in the said temple.

The petitioner, who had been working as Archakas in the said temple for several years without any official appointment, had also applied for their appointment to the three posts of Archakar in the temple when a notification for the same had been issued. However, they were not selected.  Being aggrieved, they moved the high court. 

The pleas were opposed by the respondent parties who argued that since the petitioners had taken part in the selection process, therefore, they were estopped from challenging the parameters and norms that governed the selection process.

However, court rejected the contention raised. Referring to the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Seshammal v. State of Tamil Nadu (1972) 2 SCC 11 and Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sangam v. State of Tamil Nadu (AIR 2016 SC 209), the court said that in the matter of appointment of Archakas, it has been categorically observed that if an appointment has been made offending the directions of the Apex Court, the individual appointment can be challenged in the manner known to law.

Further, regarding the appointment made, court observed that as per the Apex court's ruling in Seshammal's case failure to appoint Archaka from a specified denomination, sect or group in accordance with the directions of the Agamas governing the temple would not only be contrary to Section 28(1) of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 but also interfere with a religious practice.

Therefore, court said that in the present case, the only point of consideration was whether the temple in question was an agamic temple or a non-agamic temple.

Court opined that there was no dispute about it as the temple was admittedly governed by Kamika Agama. Therefore, finding the three respondents ineligible for their appointment as Archakas as per the said Agama, court set aside the impugned orders. 

Furthermore, court directed the trustee/fit person of the temple to take a decision for appointing the petitioners as Archakas within a period of eight weeks from the date of receipt of copy of the order.

Case Title: K.Karthick and Anr v. State of Tamil Nadu and Ors