Cannot Summon God, Madras High Court Frowns Over Lower Court Order

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Wondering if God can be summoned by a court to be produced for inspection, the Madras High Court has pulled up a lower court for ordering the authorities of a temple in Tirupur district to produce the ‘Moolavar’ (presiding deity) idol, which had been stolen, traced and installed at the shrine after following the rituals and ‘Agama’ rules, for verification.

Justice R Suresh Kumar said the lower court judge, instead, could have deputed an advocate-commissioner to inspect/verify the veracity of the idol and recorded his findings/report. The judge pulled up the lower court in Kumbakonam, which is dealing with idol theft cases, for ordering the authorities to produce the said idol belonging to the Paramasivan Swamy temple in Siviripalayam in Tirupur district.

The judge was passing interim orders on a writ petition, challenging the move of the authorities concerned to lift the idol from the pedestal and produce it before the Kumbakonam court.

According to the petitioner, the idol in the ancient temple was stolen, subsequently retrieved by the police and produced before the court concerned– the Special Court Dealing with Idol Theft Cases in Kumbakonam. Then it was handed over to the temple authorities and re-installed in the shrine. Kumbabhishekam ritual was also performed later. The idol now was being worshipped by a large number of devotees including the villagers.

While so, the Judicial Officer, who is dealing with the Idol theft cases at Kumbakonam issued a direction to produce the idol i.e., the ‘Moolavar’ itself for inspection and to complete the enquiry before the court, on January 6. When an attempt was made by the temple executive officer to remove the idol for production before the Court at Kumbakonam, the devotees, including the petitioner, strongly objected to it. Hence, the present writ petition.

Passing the orders on Thursday, the judge said the idol need not be removed and produced before the Court concerned, the reason being that, it, according to the belief of the devotees, is the God.

The God cannot be summoned by the Court to be produced for mere inspection or verification purposes, as if it is a material object of a criminal case. The judicial officer could have deputed an advocate-commissioner to inspect the idol without affecting its divinity or wounding the feelings of a large number of devotees.

“Therefore, the aforesaid measure shall be undertaken by the Magistrate and the idol i.e. the Moolavar need not be removed for the said purpose. This order shall be executed by all concerned including the Magistrate (in Kumbak usonam), to whom a copy of this order shall be forwarded by the Registry,” the judge said and posted the matter after four weeks for filing counter.

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