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The plea has been filed by the Lingiya Brahmin family, which claims to have been taking care of the temple management even before commencement of the UP Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983.
The Supreme Court has issued notice in a plea to restore the day-to- day religious affairs as well as management of the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi to the Lingiya Brahmin family.
The prayer was sought is grounded on the claim that the Lingiya Brahmin family had been taking care of the temple management even before commencement of the UP Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983 (Act).
The petition also prayed to strike down the Act, holding that the same has outlived its utility.
The plea further submits that prior to the promulgation of the Act and the preceding Ordinance, the forefathers of the petitioners had "Poornaadhikar" for conducting Seva, Puja, Raj Bhog, and other religious affairs of the deity and that they administered and managed the temple and other endowments of the deity. In this regard, the petition states
“Since time immemorial through generations after generations the ancestors of the petitioners held the ‘Poorna Adhikar’ for carrying on SevaPuja and Rag-Bhog, the religious affairs of the Deity, Shri kashi Vishweshwar in the city of Varanasi, protecting and safeguarding the image of the Deity in the form of the Jyotirlinga, and receiving the religious offerings made to the Deity and managing the endowment of the Deity of the famous Temple of Adi Vishweshwaar popularly known as The Kashi Vishwanath Temple including all subordinate temples, shrines, subshrines and the asthan of all other images and deities, mandaps, wells, tanks and other necessary structures and land appurtenant thereto added over time."
Further, it was stated that the Act was enacted in 1983 by the State legislature aiming to "provide for the proper and better administration of Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi and its endowments and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
The Act was challenged before the Supreme Court and in turn, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the Act, the plea states.
At the time, the Court had made certain observations adverse to the identity and interests of the petitioners as members of the Lingiyas, even though those issues were not the direct subject matter of the plea, the petitioners submit.
It is argued that, the Government too undue advantage of these adverse observations to forcibly deprived the petitioners of their rights over the Jyotirlingam, in the garb of managing the same.
The plea further submits that the same Sri Kashi Vishwanath temple judgment had stated that “Supersession of rights of administration cannot be of permanent enduring nature. Its life has to be reasonably fixed so as to be co-terminus with the removal of the consequences of mal administration."
In this backdrop, the plea states that since the Act was enacted for a specific and temporary purpose, the Act has a temporary character as well.
“Since the U.P Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983 was enacted to take care of a specific but temporary situation and unhygienic and appalling conditions prevalent in the Precincts of the Temple at that time, the Act also partook a temporary character.”
The petitioner also cites the judgment in the case in Dr Subramaniam swamy vs State of Madras, which held that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1951 deserves to be struck down as has achieved its objective of better management. On similar lines, the petitioners have argued that the UP Act too has achieved its purpose, and that management rights can now be transferred to the Lingiya Brahmin family. In this regard, the petition reads,
"The purpose of the act have already achieved to its fullest and the management and maintenance of the temple has been already put in place. Therefore, there is no further utility exist to sustain the said statute. This has been a settled law once an outlived its utility the same should be declared unenforceable and nullity under law."
On these grounds, the petitioner has prayed, inter alia, that
the UP Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act,1983 be struck down, for having run out of course and outlived its utility;
the administration, management and conduct of religious affairs concerning the temple be restored as it existed prior to 1983
the plea also urges that the observations made in the judgment Shri Adi Vishweshwar Kashi Visahwanath Temple, Varanasi & Ors Vs State of UP be declared as non-binding obiter dicta.
[Read the petition here]