CHENNAI: In a significant judgment, the Madras High Court on Monday set aside the order of a single judge imposing dress code on devotees visiting temples, while taking a critical view saying the judge had gone beyond the scope of the litigation and triggered a widespread public debate.
A Division Bench of justices V Ramasubramanian and K Ravichandrababu, which heard the matter, noted that the relief claimed in the original writ petition was to direct the police to grant permission to organise a cultural programme on the premises of Sri Shenbaga Vinayagar temple located at Akkiyampatti village in Tiruchy district, and it had nothing to do with the implementation of a dress code.
“Courts are not expected to adjudicate any matter academically in the absence of any real litigation between parties, and courts are not entitled to create a controversy and adjudicate upon the same,” the Bench observed.
On November 11, 2015, Justice S Vaidyanathan had pronounced an order imposing a dress code to enhance the spiritual ambience among devotees visiting temples and directed the State government and the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department to consider implementing the dress code, which prescribed dhoti or pyjamas with upper cloth or formal pants and formal shirts for men, saree or half-saree with blouse, churidars with upper cloth for women and any fully covered dress for children.
The order sparked widespread public debate, with two women’s associations and the State government approaching the High Court challenging it.