Chennai: Holding that as per Agama Shastra, temple authorities should ensure decency of worship and sanctity of temple is maintained, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday prohibited devotees from carrying their mobile phones inside temples in Tamil Nadu.
A Division Bench of Justices R. Mahadevan and J Sathya Narayana Prasad held that the gadgets divert the attention of the devotees from the purpose of visiting the temple. The judges directed the Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, which maintained many famed temples in Tamil Nadu, to prohibit the usage of mobile phones inside temples.
“Temples are great institutions and they have traditionally been central to every one’s life. It is not only a place of worship, but also integral to the socio-cultural and economic life of people. It is a living tradition that still draws hundreds of thousands of devotees seeking to experience divinity and spirituality offered by the temple. The systems and structures which support this experience, make a temple to have its own management needs,” the court said.
While agreeing that there cannot be any dispute that under Article 25 of the Constitution, all persons are entitled to freely profess, practice and propagate religion, the judges said, “However, such freedom to act and practise can be subject to regulations, inside the premises of the temple. The Agamas prescribe the rules regarding the rituals to be followed in the worship services at the temple.”
Besides, the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947 and the Rules empowers the trustees or any authority in-charge of the temple to make regulations for the maintenance of order and decorum in the temple.
The court noted that mobile phone bans have been implemented in famed temples including Sri Krishna Temple at Guruvayur (Kerala), Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple at Madurai (Tamil Nadu) and Sri Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh) and they had security counters to deposit mobile phones before entering the temple premises.
The judges passed the order prohibiting carrying of mobile phones in temples while hearing a petition praying to take effective measures to prohibit mobile phone usage inside the Subramaniya Swamy temple in coastal Tiruchendur.
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