SC annuls Gauhati HC order requiring Assam govt to frame legislation to regulate Kamakhya Temple

Devotees visit Kamakhya Temple during annual Ambubachi Festival in Guwahati on June 21, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

Devotees visit Kamakhya Temple during annual Ambubachi Festival in Guwahati on June 21, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, November 16 (IANS): The Supreme Court has invalidated the operation of a Gauhati High Court order directing the Deputy Commissioner of Assam's Kamrup (Metro) to maintain a separate account for receiving the donations given by the devotees and public for developmental activities of the Kamakhya Temple.

A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal, in a recent order, noted that the Assam government, in an affidavit filed in September this year, said that "at present the Doloi Samaj is running the affairs of the Temple Administration satisfactorily in close coordination with the local administration and the current system may continue".

"The Government of Assam is taking the development activities of Maa Kamakhya Temple in a big way under the PM DevINE Scheme,” said another affidavit filed by the state government before the apex court.

The state authorities also gave an assurance that an amount of Rs 11,00,664.50 lying deposited in SBI’s Kamakhya Temple Branch will be handed over to Doloi Samaj, Maa Kamakhya Devalaya.

In its 2015 decision passed in a public interest litigation (PIL), the Gauhati High Court had recommended the state government to "frame proper legislation to regulate the secular activities of the temple".

It had asked the Deputy Commissioner to maintain a separate account to receive the donations given by devotees and the public and to utilise such funds for developmental activities.

"If huge developments take place on the hilltop of the temple, it may require a proper and effective management and maintenance," the High Court had said.

"Any donation given by the devotees and public in Kamakhya Temple for the developmental activities of the Temple shall be received by the Deputy Commissioner, who shall also maintain a separate account of the same and use the amount for developmental activities of the Temple. And for the usual offerings given in the Temple by the devotees and public, the Deputy Commissioner need not maintain a separate account," the High Court said in 2017 while disposing of a review petition filed against the 2015 decision.

In an order passed in October same year, the Supreme Court had stayed the operation of the impugned decision passed by the High Court. "Accordingly, the impugned judgments will not operate and the arrangement, which is noted above in this order and in terms of both the affidavits of the State of Assam, will continue to operate," it ordered on November 10.