The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court urged the Tamil Nadu government on Friday to prohibit the use of mobile phones in temples across the state in order to preserve the “sanctity and purity” of places of worship. A division bench of Justices R Mahadevan and J Sathya Narayana Prasad remarked that a similar prohibition is successfully in force in other temples across the country to “avoid disturbance to worshippers”.
Details about Madras HC has banned mobile phones in temples throughout Tamil Nadu in order to maintain sanctity and purity
The ruling was issued in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) brought by M Seetharaman, who requested that cell phones be prohibited inside the Subramaniya Swamy Temple in Tiruchendur, Tuticorin district. Seetharaman claimed in his appeal that worshippers were using their phones to photograph the idols and pujas.
According to the petitioner, the Subramaniya Swamy temple is an ancient temple where Agama laws (which ban the use of cameras to capture or snap images of the deities) play an important role in temple worship and management. As a result, he claimed, the temple personnel is suffering, and the usage of mobile phones jeopardizes the temple’s security and valuables. He also raised concern about the “possible potential for taking images of female devotees without their agreement, which will be exploited.”
“… it is crucial to emphasize that temples are magnificent institutions and have traditionally been central to everyone’s life,” the court noted in its order. It is not simply a place of worship, but also an important part of people’s socio-cultural and economic lives. It is a living tradition that continues to attract hundreds of thousands of devotees eager to experience the divinity and spirituality provided by the temple. The procedures and structures that support this experience give rise to a temple’s specific management requirements.”
The judges stated unequivocally that under Article 25 of the Constitution, all persons have the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion. However, the justices stated that such freedom to act and practice may be subject to rules within the temple’s premises.
“The Agamas establish the guidelines for the rites to be performed during temple worship ceremonies. According to the same, temple officials must safeguard the decency of worship and the sanctity of the temple,” the bench stated.
The trustees or anybody in charge of the temple can impose regulations for the maintenance of order and decorum on the premises, according to the guidelines of the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorization Act, 1947. At the same time, the guidelines state that the requirements must not be prejudicial to the rights and facilities that worshippers have traditionally enjoyed.