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All India Democratic Women's Association and Janwadi Samiti Vs. Union of India & Ors [1989] INSC 94 (17 March 1989)

Misra Rangnath Misra Rangnath Venkatachalliah, M.N. (J)

CITATION: 1989 AIR 1280 1989 SCR (2) 66 1989 SCC (2) 411 JT 1989 (1) 548 1989 SCALE (1)680

ACT:

Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987: Chunri Cer e- mony-Whether glorification of Sati--Maintenance of Sati temple and support to social institutions of utility out of income earned pending determination- Permissibility of.

HEAD NOTE:

By an ex-parte order made in the writ petition on 9 th September, 1988, the Court prohibited respondent No. 2, t he management of the Sri Rani Satiji's Mandir, from performing Chunri ceremony within the temple and directed the entire collection of money to be separately accounted for and deposited into a nationalised bank.

In this miscellaneous petition, the management soug ht vacation of the ad interim order and lot a direction to t he authorities not to interfere in the matter of collection of money as also articles of gold and silver of deities.

Disposing of the miscellaneous petition, the Court, Ordered:

1. The restraint imposed on holding the Chunri ceremo ny within the temple should continue without any variation. [68G-H]

2.1 Pending disposal of the writ .petition, the temp le complex has to be maintained. Therefore, out of the inco me earned maintenance expenses must be met. [69A]

2.2 If out of the income of this institution any contr i- bution was being made to sustain some social institutions of utility, the support should not die out. [69B-C]

2.3 The respondent No. 2 is free to move the Distri ct Magistrate in regard to these two aspects and in case t he latter is satisfied that appropriate funds should be r e- leased out of the deposits in the bank for 67 one or both of the above said purposes, he would be free to make an appropriate order in respect thereof. [69C]

ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Civil Misc. Petition No. 28180 of 1988.

IN Writ Petition No. 9 13 of 1988 (Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.) Mrs. K. Hingorani and Ms. Santosh Singh for the Petitioner .

A.K. Sen (Not Present), Dr. L.M. Singhvi, Vivek Gambhi r, Parveen Kumar and B.D. Sharma for the Respondents.

S.P. Singh for the Impleading party.

The following Order of the Court was delivered:

ORDER This Court on 9.9.1988 after hearing counsel for t he petitioners in the writ petition made an ex parte order to the following effect:

"Issue notice returnable on Tuesday, the 13 th September, 1988. In view of the allegations made in Par a- graph 4 of the affidavit given by Vijay Trivedi, the R e- spondent No. 2 is prohibited from performing any Chun ri Ceremony within Sri Rani Satiji's Mandir and the respondents are directed to enforce this order on the th September, 19 88 and on any other occasion thereafter until further order s.

The entire collection of money shall be separately account ed for and should be deposited into a nationalised bank, so that appropriate directions after hearing both the parties may be made by this Court in regard to the same ..... " On 10th of September, 1988, the annual Satiji Mela w as scheduled to be celebrated within the said temple premises .

The management of the temple, respondent No. 2, in t he writ petition has now applied for vacating the ad interim order and for a 68 direction to the District Magistrate, Jhunjhunu to retu rn the keys of the Bhetpatras of the temple and the boxes containing the articles of gold and silver and also for a direction to him not to interfere in the matter of colle c- tion of money as also collection of articles of gold a nd silver of deities located in the premises of the temple a nd to make such other orders as may be necessary to meet t he situation.

We have heard Dr. Singhvi in support of the petition, Mrs. Hingorani for the petitioners in the writ petiti on asking for sustaining the interim order and Mr. Sharma f or the State of Rajasthan. An affidavit has been filed by t he District Magistrate of Jhunjhunu in the course of hearing which has also been placed before us.

Broadly two aspects require consideration:

(1) wheth er the 'Chunry' ceremony should be permitted to be perform ed within the temple and

(2) whether out of the amounts whi ch are being deposited in the nationalised bank in terms of t he interim order, the expenses for maintenance of the temp le complex, performance of the daily rites as also the usual charities should not be made.

Under the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 198 7, glorification of Sati is strictly prohibited and that a ct has been declared to be an offence. Dr. Singhvi by referri ng to different dictionaries has tried to impress upon us that Chunry as such is not connected with glorification of Sa ti and is a ceremony connected with the traditional form of offering worship known as Sodash Upachar while Mrs. Hingor a- ni and Mr. Sharma do not accept the submission made by Dr. Singhvi and have maintained that in the State of Rajasth an Chunry ceremony is always associated with glorifying Sa ti and the celebration is a part of the traditional process of religious offerings in Sati temples. This certainly is n ot the stage in the proceedings for a final view of the que s- tion as to whether performance of Chunry ceremony amounts to glorification of Sati and the determination must be left to the final stage. We do not think it would be appropriate f or us to express any view beyond this point at this stage as the same may embarrass the bench which would ultimately hear the matter.

We are, therefore, of the view that the restraint i m- posed on holding the Chunry ceremony within the temp le should continue without any variation. The contention of Dr. Singhvi that Chunry is a part of Sodash Upachar will have to be examined at length at the later stage.

69 Now a look at the other aspect. There can be no two opinions that pending disposal of the writ petition, t he temple complex has to be maintained and out of the income earned maintenance expense must be met. The submission advanced by Mrs. Hingorani that the temple should be co n- verted forthwith into rehabilitation camps for uncared f or ladies is certainly not one requiring any serious consider a- tion. There is no provision in the statute or in any other law which would warrant such change of user of the premise s.

Similarly if out of the income of this institution any contribution was being made to sustain some social instit u- tions of utility, the support should not die out. The respondent No. 2 is free to move the District Magistrate of Jhunjhunu in regard to these two aspects and in case t he District Magistrate is satisfied that appropriate funds should be released out of the deposits in the bank for o ne or both of the purposes indicated above he would be free to direct such money as may be found necessary to be with drawn from the bank for being utilised for the purposes as may be specified by the District Magistrate m his order to be made.

This disposes of the Civil Miscellaneous Petition.

P.S.S.

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