Chennai, November 14: As we all are equal before God, no devotee will be offered ‘close-up’ darshan of the deity after paying money, ruled the Madras High Court.The Madras HC has ruled that while those willing to pay more can be allowed to cut the queue to get darshan faster, they cannot be taken closer to the deity. The court ordered that irrespective of paid or unpaid darshan, all devotees must witness and pray to the deity from the same spot.
The First Bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sunder gave the direction on a PIL by Indic Collective Trust seeking a direction to Hindu Religious and Charitable Trust to regulate the system of granting better advantages to those “paid darshan” ticket holders in the Srivilliputhur Sri Andal temple, Arulmighu Ekambaranathar temple at Kancheepuram and Arulmigu Oppiliappan Temple at Thirunagesaram.
Managing trustee G Aravindalochanan said in his petition that he had visited three temples believing that all the devotees, irrespective of ‘free’ or ‘paid’ darshan category, will ultimately be allowed to experience the same ‘darshan’ for relatively equal duration and from the same distance from the deity, but that was not the case.
The trust had claimed in its petition that special darshans violated Article 14 and 25 of the Indian Constitution. "By providing special privileges to worship the deity from a shorter distance in comparison to others, opportunity to pray for a longer duration to paid devotees, the fundamental rights assured under Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 25 (right to practice any religion) of the Constitution of unpaid devotees visiting the temples are violated," the petitioner had said.
"Religious and charitable institutions were not founded with the motive of earning profit, but for religious and charitable purposes. Therefore, it becomes imperative that this court interferes in the issue and corrects the wrongs, which was being committed in the temples by the authorities,” the petition added.