New Delhi, Oct 16 | Appeals have been moved in the Supreme Court challenging the Uttarakhand High Court verdict, which dismissed a plea by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against the state government taking over of the Char Dham sites and 51 other shrines.
The two appeals have been filed through advocate M.S. Suvidutt on behalf of the NGOs, People for Dharma and Indic Collective Trust. The appeals commonly raised a contention that the high court verdict is bound to have a bearing on the rights of the trustees as well as the Hindu community at large.
The high court on July 21 had upheld the validity and constitutionality of the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act of 2019.
“The secular state entrenching itself into the role of managing everything under the sun as classified under Section 2 (d) defining the term ‘Char Dham’ leaves no possibility for preserving this law with regard to Article 25 (2),” said the plea.
The petitioners as an interim relief sought a stay on the high court order till the final disposal of the appeals.
The petitioners said the Char Dham is better known as the Chhota Char Dham, pilgrimage to which is considered equivalent to travelling throughout the country to the main sites in Badrinath, Puri, Rameshwaram and Dwarka.
The petitioners argued that the existing legislations and byelaws in relation to Badrinath and Kedarnath temples had already divided the secular and religious management for these shrines and that the state already had the necessary powers under these statutes to ensure preservation and proper management of secular activities.
“That the new Act of 2019 instead expands the said control over various other temples in the region and the other two major temples at Gangotri and Yamunotri in the name of rejuvenation of these temples without any mismanagement being claimed therein,”said the plea.
“The judgment failed to consider an apparent fact that the new Act of 2019 states that it intends to provide ‘rejuvenation for Char Dham and other famous temples located in Uttarakhand and to manage the Devasthanam Management Board’, but does much more than that,” argued the petitioners.