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Madras HC stay on Tamil Nadu temple dress code

AGE CORRESPONDENT
Published : Jan 12, 2016, 6:21 am IST
Updated : Jan 12, 2016, 6:21 am IST

The Madurai bench of the Madras high court on Monday granted an interim stay of a single judge’s order directing the TN government to implement the dress code for men, women and children for entering

The Madurai bench of the Madras high court on Monday granted an interim stay of a single judge’s order directing the TN government to implement the dress code for men, women and children for entering temples administered by Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department, till January 18. A division bench of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and N. Kirubakaran passed the interim order on an appeal by the Tamil Nadu government and two women’s organisations against the November 2015 order.

Advocate-general A.L. Somayaji told the court that the imposition of a dress code by the single judge using his discretionary power was unwarranted when these temples had already implemented various restrictions including dress codes as per the customary and traditional practices following the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947. Moreover, the law also permitted individual temple management to prescribe dress codes as their custom, he said.

When Justice Kirubakaran asked as to why the discretionary power of judges guaranteed under Article 226 of the Constitution was being questioned, advocate U. Nirmala Rani, appearing for All-India Democratic Women’s Association said, “We agree that orders can be passed using the discretionary power of judges, but there should be some objective ground for it.” But in this case, there was no objective condition to use the discretionary power of the judge, she claimed. The original case is a writ petition seeking permission for cultural programmes in view of a temple festival in Tiruchy district.

Referring to the single judge’s mention of dress code followed in Muslim religion, she said, “Indian women are not living in Afghanistan and Pakistan where women are forced to cover from head to toe. Even there, women’s organisations are fighting against the dress code,” she said.

The single judge’s order violated constitutional rights of citizens to worship in a dress of their personal choice, she said. Advocate A. Rajini, appearing for Southern Districts Women’s Federation, also argued against the order.

As more prefer to implead themselves in the case, the Bench granted the interim stay.

Location: India, Tamil Nadu, Madurai