Law takes government course in Dravidian land - II
by B R Haran on 06 Aug 2009 2 Comments

After seeing the past verdicts in favour of Dikshidars, in their own cases as well as in cases concerning other temples, one feels for the Dikshidar community for its continuing misery. Despite a flurry of judgments against brazen attempts to takeover the temple, the state government has not shown an iota of remorse. The state government’s track record on this particular issue smacks of total contempt for law and judiciary, and utter disregard for morality, the majority community’s religious sentiments and timeless traditions.   

State Government’s utter disregard for ‘Justice’

As agreed in the Supreme Court, the state government, vide G.O. Ms. No: 1278 dated 21-5-1954, cancelled its notification (G.O.Ms.No: 894 dated 28-8-1951). But, seemingly with a deliberate intention of twisting facts, the state even now pretends that the Civil Appeal was “withdrawn,” while actually the five judge bench of the SC had “dismissed” the civil appeal.

Again, when the state government tried to meddle with the temple, the Podhu Dikshidars Sangam (PDS) filed a Writ Petition (WP 616/1981) with the Madras High Court. Hon’ble Justice Mohan in his order dated 20-1-1982, observed that the exercise of power by the HR&CE Commissioner is wholly without jurisdiction and is clearly against the statutory provision of Section 73 of the Act. Though his verdict went in favour of the Dikshidars, he too “erred” by stating that, “consequent to the cancellation of the notification appointing the Executive Officer the appeal before the Supreme Court was withdrawn.”

Notwithstanding the judgment of Justice Mohan in favour of Dikshidars, the government again issued a notice (RC.No:52754/1982/B6 dated 20-7-1982) to PDS alleging irregularities in the administration of the temple and its properties and the proposal to appoint an Executive Officer. The Podhu Dikshidars had to rush to the Madras HC again by filing yet another Writ Petition (WP 5638/1982).

The High Court, through its judgment dated 9-8-1983, directed that the aforesaid notice would be treated only as a show cause notice and not as a decision, and that the Dikshidars could put forth their objections as per Section 45 of the HR&CE Act. Pursuant to the direction, the Dikshidars filed a reply on 9 January 1984.

Conducting an enquiry thereafter, the Commissioner passed an order on 31 July 1987, stating that the appointment of Executive Officer was only to look after the administration of the temple and management of properties, and it would not mean interference with the rights of Dikshidars relating to religious practices in the temple.  

As against this order, the PDS again filed a writ petition (WP 7843/1987) before the HC, even while the EO assumed charge of the temple on 10 August 1987. The HC didn’t grant stay, but stayed only the ‘clause 3’ (powers and duties of EO) and dismissed the petition on 11 February 1997. Even while dismissing the petition, Hon’ble Justice Venkatachalam made a blunder by observing (para 2 of judgment) that the Madras Division Bench’s judgment (13 December 1951) favouring the Dikshidars was “not upheld” by the SC, but was dismissed as withdrawn. 

The PDS again challenged the dismissal by filing a Writ Appeal (W.A. No: 145/1997) against which the HC directed the PDS to file a Revision Petition  under Section 114 of the HR&CE Act before the respondents and also ordered the continuation of the stay of ‘clause 3’. 

The Revision Petition filed by the PDS was rejected by the state government through a government order (GO. Ms. No: 168 dated 9 May 2006) and when the PDS challenged it again, Hon’ble Justice Banumathi gave a verdict favouring the state government.

The DMK, which defeated the Congress party and captured power in 1967, took some time to settle down, and once settled, started meddling in the affairs of temples and their properties. The HR&CE Department’s mismanagement and other activities under alternative Dravidian governments (DMK & AIADMK) since then could fill volumes. Regarding the Chidambaram Sabanayagar Temple, the way these governments treated the High Court and Supreme Court with contempt and disregarded the judicial system for the last four decades is revealing! The suspected manipulation of law and judiciary by the state governments can be understood from the pathetic plight of Dikshidars repeatedly running from Munsif Court to Supreme Court for justice.     

Thus, it is small wonder that the state government had shown utmost contempt to, and  a few selected judges did not take into consideration, the repeated confirmation of ‘Denomination Status’ to Chidambaram Natarajar Temple in 1891, 1951, 1954, 1958 and 1982. 

Post-judgment scenario

It was a sort of coup at Chidambaram on the afternoon of 2 February 2009, as the HR&CE officials took over the Nataraja Temple. The very fact that HR&CE Department officials and police were ready to enter the temple within a few hours of pronouncement of the judgment and attempted to do the same, gives rise to the suspicion that they were in the know of the coming verdict.

The first and foremost thing done by the department was to place a Hundi inside the temple, exhibiting its greed for money while hitting strongly at the meagre earnings of the poor Dikshidar community. Within a few months, the government placed three more hundis at strategic points inside the temple, which would further hit the income of the poor Dikshidars. It may be noted that the Madras High Court in its judgment favouring the PDS in December 1951, made elaborate observations on the very limited source of income of the Dikshidars. (Ref: Life style of Chidambaram Dikshidars: - ) 

Now, apart from placing Hundis, the government has further commercialization plans, such as construction of choultry, marriage hall, trade and commercial venues within and outside the temple premises and promoting Chidambaram Temple as a heritage tourist centre, along with the nearby Pitchavaram Lake as eco-tourist spot - a total disregard for religious tradition. 

A fake ‘Othuvar’ (one who recites Tamil Hymns) named Arumugasamy, planted by vested interests such as anti-Hindu Dravidian political outfits and so-called NGOs and Human Rights outfits, and allegedly backed by western institutions, has been creating a ruckus inside the temple every now and then and acting against the Dikshidars, filing false complaints against them. The planting of this fake ‘Othuvar’ interfered with the centuries-old worshipping pattern of the temple, causing immense trauma for the Dikshidars and genuine devotees. 

Behind the scene operation

The PDS writ appeal (WP 181/182/183/2009) challenging the single judge’s order dated 2 February 2009 was listed on 17 February 2009 before the Division Bench comprising Justices P K Mishra and K Chandru. Dr. Subramanian Swamy appeared in Court Hall:3 to implead himself in the Chidambaram case.

As the Sri Lankan Tamil issue was at its peak then, it came in handy for a section of lawyers to thwart Dr. Swamy’s attempt to implead himself, and also to spoil the admission of the writ appeal. The unruly lawyers physically attacked Dr. Swamy and a few concerned persons, and though the division bench postponed the hearing to the 19th, it could not be conducted due to the unprecedented violence inside the High Court that day. 

Since then, counsel representing the Dikshidars could not list the writ appeal for more than four months, for ‘obvious’ reasons! As the counsel’s inability, possibly due to backroom manoeuvers of the ‘powers’ that be, to proceed further caused a lot of trauma to the Dikshidars, they ultimately opted for change of counsel. 

The present status

Senior Advocate G Rajagopalan, one of the most renowned in Tamil Nadu, has now taken up the case. It was listed on 17 July before a Division Bench comprising Justices K Raviraja Pandiyan and PPS Janarthana Raja. Additional Advocate General of the state government and counsel for the HR&CE Department and Senior Advocate Gandhi representing the fake ‘Othuvar’, who had impleaded in the case, were present.

The bench gave a patient hearing to G Rajagopalan who presented the Dikshidar case very effectively. It gave a patient reading to all references submitted by him for over an hour, and adjourned the case to 24 July.

During the hearing, the bench sought the reasons for the single judge’s non-consideration of the 1951 and 1954 judgments made by the High Court and Supreme Court respectively. On 24 July, the bench adjourned the case to 7 August at the request of the respondents, who said they would need at least for two hours as many intricacies are involved in this very important case. 


The patient hearing by the division bench on 17 and 24 July has given a glimmer of hope to the Dikshidars, whose counsel might pray for status-quo-ante, if not a decisive verdict in their favour. But a look at the track record of the state government, not only in this case, but also in the other cases concerning matters of Hindu interest, such as Rama Sethu and Tamil New Year, suggests it would use its ‘might’ to either ‘influence’ the judiciary or ‘change’ the bench or ‘delay’ the proceedings!

Ultimately, the Dikshidars may well have to approach the Supreme Court for justice. Anticipating such a situation, an “Online Petition’ addressed to the Chief Justice of India, has been launched ( 

As the Dikshidars’ case is very strong, truth will prevail and Dharma will triumph. But this is Kali Yuga; devotees of Bhagwan Nataraja should be prepared for another ‘obscenity’ in front of Chidambaram Natarajar Temple, perhaps the military tank those Dravidian leaders so desired to demolish the temple! 

The author is a senior journalist and lives in Chennai

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