According to the petitioners, the appointment to the posts of Melsanthi (head priest) was a secular act. Therefore, the posts could not be reserved for one particular community.
KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday declined to stay the notification issued by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which prescribes that only ‘Malayala Brahmins’ are entitled to apply for the post of Melsanthi (head priest) in Sabarimala and Malikappuram temples.
“We cannot pass an interim order now. The matter requires detailed consideration. We are not making any observations on the merit of the case. We are giving a chance to all the respondents in the petition to file counter-affidavits. This is not a matter where one could hurriedly take a decision,” the Division Bench comprising Justice CT Ravi Kumar and Justice Murali Purashothaman observed.
The court directed the TDB and others to file counter-affidavits in the case and posted the hearing on August 12. The order was issued by CV Vishnu Narayanan, Sijith TL and others seeking to quash the notification.
When the petition came up for hearing, advocate TR Rajesh, counsel for Sijith TL, sought an interim order staying the notification. He pointed out that the last date for submitting the application expired on July 17 and if the Board completed the process, their petition will become infructuous. However, the court did not consider the contention.
The notification issued by the Travancore Devaswom Board inviting applications for the posts of Sabarimala and Malikappuram Melsanthis stipulated that the applicants must be from the Malayala Brahmin community. According to the petitioners, the appointment to the posts of Melsanthi was a secular act. Therefore, the posts could not be reserved for one particular community, especially in an institution administered by the government-controlled Travancore Devaswom Board.
The appointment of a priest should be made from among persons well versed, fully qualified, and trained in their duties and mantras, tantras, and necessary Vedas, irrespective of their caste. It could not be exclusively reserved for any caste be it Malayala Brahmin or otherwise as such an act would directly hit Article 14 of the Constitution.
The petitioners argued that they are fully qualified for being appointed as Melsanthis in any of the temples run by the devaswom boards.