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The Uttarakhand High Court reserved its judgment on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy challenging the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act.

The bench comprising of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe had been hearing the final arguments in this PIL since last week. The petitioner Swamy and his counsel Manisha Bhandari argued that “Our argument has been that the Act is unconstitutional, since it violates the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution under Article 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution. It has also been submitted that the government should have nothing to do with the management of religious affair.”

The petitioner further requested the court to declare the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act, 2019 passed in Uttarakhand legislative assembly in December 2019, as ‘Unconstitutional’.

Meanwhile, NGO Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) quoted the ancient text ‘Manusmriti’ in favor of the Act, saying that according to the centuries-old text, the king (government) has the right to appoint priests since the king is the chief protector of dharma. They also said that the priests have no right to manage the affairs of the temple according to Hindu law.

Advocate Kartikey Hari Gupta, the counsel appearing for NGO said that “the controversy is about the monetary benefits from these temples. There is no provision in the Act that prohibits priests from performing religious rites in the temples. There is nothing in the Act that goes against either the Hindu law or Constitution.”

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