What is paramount, country or religion: Madras HC asks amid hijab rowtext_fields
Chennai: Amid the simmering hijab row in Karnataka, the Madras High Court while expressing deep concern over the growing tendency of certain forces arousing religious disharmony in the country, asked what is paramount -- nation or religion.
The high court made the observation during a hearing on petition filed by Rangarajan Narasimhan of Srirangam in Tiruchirapalli district that sought orders to the government to prescribe a dress code to enter temples.
The first bench of Acting Chief Justice MN Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthi lamented that what is found from the current affairs is nothing but an effort to divide the country in the name of religion.
"It is really shocking, somebody is going for the 'hijab', some others for the 'topi' (cap) and a few others for other things. Is it one country or is it divided by religion or something like that. This is quite surprising," the bench added.
In his PIL filed on Thursday, the petitioner had urged the court to order strict implementation of the dress code for devotees, disallowing non-Hindus from stepping into the temples across the state and a ban on commercial activities in the premises of the temples.
Display boards should be placed prominently at the entrance of the temples banning entry of non-Hindus and prescribing dress code, he said.
When there is no particular dress code, then how will the question of putting up display boards on the same arise, the bench wondered.
When the petitioner insisted for an order, the bench advised him to produce the evidence for his prayer.
Irked over the petitioner's relentless posture, the bench warned him of barring from appearing in-person before the court and directed him to use appropriate words and desist from quarrelling.
Tamil Nadu Advocate General R Shanmugasundaram informed the court that each temple is following its own custom and visitors belonging to other religions are allowed only up to the 'kodi maram' (flag mast).
He recalled that a division bench of Madras High Court had already set aside an order of a single judge prescribing a dress code as it was beyond the scope of the writ petition. It had triggered widespread outrage and debate, he pointed out.
Finally, the bench allowed the petitioner to file an affidavit with illustrations relating to the dress code.