Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 16
Two NGOs on Friday moved the Supreme Court against an Uttarakhand High Court verdict upholding the validity of the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act, 2019, that entrusted management of holy shrines, including Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, to a Board headed by the Chief Minister.
The two NGOs—People for Dharma and Indic Collective Trust – have challenged the July 21 verdict dismissing two petitions, including one filed by senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy—challenging the validity of the Act.
Citing the Supreme Court’s verdicts, the petitioners submitted that “…no State law can take away the right of administration of a religious institution completely and indefinitely out of the hands of the community and vest the same in a secular authority.”
They said, “Provisions of the impugned Act oversteps the constitutional mandate of State’s ability to regulate secular aspects of the management of religious institutions under Article 25 and 26 and also works against Article 31A along with the precedents set by the judgments of this Hon’ble Court.”
A Division Bench of the Uttarakhand HC ruled that the ownership of the temple properties would vest in Char Dham shrines and the power of the board would be confined to the administration and management of the properties.
However, the petitioners contended that “The Hon’ble High Court has erred in upholding the validity and constitutionality of the impugned Act since its provisions are arbitrary and violative of the Fundamental Rights of all devotees of the Chhota Char Dham shrines.”