HC’s nod to HR&CE’s take-over of Ayodhya Mandapam in Chennai shocks many

Ayodhya Mandapam at West Mambalam

Chennai: With the Madras High Court recently upholding the taking over of the renowned Ayodhya Mandapam at West Mambalam in the city by the State Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department, a legal battle is on the cards.

Senior advocate K Parasaran, the lead lawyer of the Hindu side in the Ram Janmabhoomi case, and the head of Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust which was approved by the Union government, will soon file a petition in the High Court against its direction and is likely to personally appear to argue the case.

Confirming this development, an office-bearer of Sri Ram Samaj that manages the Mandapam, told ‘News Today’: ‘The court direction is a shocker to us. We are yet to get the order copy. Once we get it, our legal team will take further course of action. With a tall legal luminary like Parasaran backing our cause, we are sure of winning the case. Let justice prevails.’

On why they are opposing the taking over of the Mandapam by the HR&CE, he said, ‘the department can only take over temples built under Agama rules. Ayodhya Mandapam is neither a temple nor was constructed as per Agama rules. It is just a bhajana hall well maintained by the Samaj.’

Krishnasamy, a regular visitor to Ayodhya Mandapam, said, ‘HR&CE’s act is against the wish of people who come here regularly. At least it should have consulted us before the move. The mandapam should be given back to Sri Ram Samaj. Will the government touch such places run by other religions?’

A HR&CE official said, ‘As per Section 20 (6) of the TN Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1956, the HR&CE has the authority to take over any religious institution where a deity is kept and prayers are offered by the public. The government shall take over such institutions under certain conditions. The decision to take over Ayodhya Mandapam was taken after we received some complaints.’

The Mandapam was constructed in 1954. Periodic discourses on Vedas and Upanishads as well as several cultural meet-outs are organised throughout the year. In the month of March–April of every year, programmes in connection to Sri Rama Navami are very special at Ayodhya Mandapam.

In January 2014, this society was taken over by HR & CE department. Recently, Justice VM Velumani dismissed the plea by Sri Ram Samaj, which wanted She state government to recall its decision of taking over the Ayodhya Mandapam.