Former member of Rajya Sabha and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramaniam Swamy has approached the Bombay High Court challenging the Pandharpur Temples Act (PTA) of 1973 on the ground that the Maharashtra government arbitrarily took over the administration of the temple at Pandharpur [Subramaniam Swamy & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra].The plea filed through advocates Manohar Shetty, Satya Sabharwal, Vishesh Kanodia, and Shantanu Shetty claimed that the Act violates fundamental rights under Article 14 of the Constitution. “Even if the management of a temple is taken over to remedy the evil, the management must be handed over to the person concerned immediately after the evil stands remedied. Continuation of take over after the evil is remedied would be tantamount to usurpation of proprietary rights or violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by constitution,” the plea stated..By taking control over the Pandharpur Temple, the State government has ousted the rights of Hindus to profess, practice, and propagate their religion, and to manage Hindu Religious Endowments and their own affairs in matters of religion, the plea stated. The Act has negated the freedom or autonomy within the religious community to manage the temple, Swamy contended.“Role of a priest in the instant matter is completely a religious matter and such interference is violative of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India, read with freedom of faith and belief to worship under the Preamble,” the PIL said..Swamy, therefore, sought striking down of the Act on the grounds that it is violative of the fundamental rights of the petitioners and the Hindu population at large. He claimed that the Act also enables the State to permanently takeover administration and control religious and non-religious activities of the temples and vest the same in the officers of the government indefinitely..Through the Act passed in 1973, the State government abolished all hereditary rights, privileges of ministrants and priestly classes existing for governance and administration in the temples of the gods Vitthal and Rukmini in Pandharpur. It essentially granted control of the administration and management of funds to the State government, Swamy submitted. .The plea stated that Swamy had addressed a communication to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on July 7, 2022, stating that affairs of the temples were heavily mismanaged with regard to religious offerings, and the rituals of the temples were not being followed as per Hindu customs.It stated that the same had an adverse effect on Hindu religious sentiments and their fundamental rights. Swamy had also written to the Governor of Maharashtra praying that the PTA be repealed but since no action was taken, he moved the Court. .The PIL sought an interim relief of constituting a committee in consultation with the priests, representatives of devotees (Warkaris) for appropriate management of the temple free of government control.