MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Monday granted interim stay on the dress code order to be followed in Hindu temples. Hearing writ appeals challenging the single judge order by three parties, including the State Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department, the division bench comprising justices V Ramasubramanian and N Kirubakaran adjourned the case to January 18, staying the order till then.
Earlier, Justice S Vaidyanathan had ordered the HR&CE Department not to allow people inside temples if they wear modern dresses and permit only those attired in traditional dresses.
Following this, the State government representing the HR&CE Department filed the writ appeal, while two women’s organisations — the Southern Districts Women’s Federation and All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) — also joined the department seeking quashing of the order. It came up for hearing on Monday before the bench.
The order was pronounced while hearing a petition filed for obtaining permission to conduct a musical dance programme at a temple in Akkiyampatti in Tiruchy district. Though appellant C Rasu of Akkiyampatti did not pray the court to pass an order, it gave the order. On hearing the petition, the judges wondered whether the court should not take public-related issues as suo motu cases and give relief which was not sought of.
Additional Advocate General A L Somayaji argued that no occasion had arisen to issue any such directions on the dress code as there was no untoward incident reported due to attire worn by devotees visiting temples. Asking children to wear fully-covered dress would be feasible of compliance, he contended.
Appearing for AIDWA, U Nirmala Rani said while it would not be easy to define ‘proper’ dress, if the uniform dress code was implemented, it would be against democracy. The HR&CE told the court that the temples were already following The Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947.