Read Order: STATE OF KERALA AND ORS. Vs. BIJESH KUMAR M. AND ORS. 

LE Correspondent

Ernakulam, May 31, 2022: The Kerala High Court has dismissed the review petition against the order of the Full Bench wherein various provisions of Guruvayur Devaswom Act, 1978 were considered and it was observed that none of the provisions of the Act, authorizes the Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee to contribute or part with or give away in any manner any amount from the funds belonging to Guruvayoor Devaswom either to C.M.D.R.F or to any Government agency.

A larger Bench of Justice Anu Sivaraman, Justice Shricy V and Justice M.R. Anitha opined that it is a settled proposition in law that the scope of review is quite confined and it can only be exercised if there is an apparent error found on the face of record. 

A devotee/ worshipper of Lord Gurvayurappan preferred the writ petition assailing the correctness and legality of certain administrative decisions of the Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee. Taking contrary views in a writ petition filed in 2019 and in C.K. In Ranjan’s case (AIR 1994 Kerela 179), an order of reference was made by the Division Bench on September 24, 2019 for consideration by a Full Bench.  The Full Bench treating the aforesaid petition as the leading case considered all the other writ petitions also seeking similar reliefs and answered the reference by a common order dated December 18, 2020.  Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the common order of the Full Bench in the writ petitions, the present review petitions were filed.

The subject matter of the review petitions was primarily to contend that the Full Bench had committed an error by holding that the scope of Section 27(c) of the Act 1978 cannot be widened so as to provide medical relief, water supply and other sanitary arrangements for the worshippers and pilgrims, located away from a reasonable distance of the temple premises.

The  Court observed that the scope of review is confined and narrow and can only be exercised if there was any apparent error on the face of the record . Further reliance was placed on the judgments in  M/s. Thungabhadra Industries Ltd. v. The Government of Andhra Pradesh represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Smt. Meera Bhanja v. Nirmala Kumari Choudhury and Kamlesh Verma v. Mayawati and Others.

The Court opined that the scope of Section 27(c) cannot be widened as pointed out by the Government Pleader for the State. If the contention of the learned Government pleader was accepted, it would be against the principles of precedent in view of the ratio in C.K Rajan’s case as there are millions of worshippers around the world and the said clauses couldn’t be  treated as one meant for the benefit of worshippers, added the Bench. 

Further the Court took into consideration Section 10(b) of the Guruvayur Devaswom Act, 1978 wherein it was clearly mentioned that the G.D.M.C has to provide facilities for proper performance of worship by the worshippers. Additionally it was noted that the  words in Section 10(g) were unambiguous with respect to the fact  that the committee was  bound to do all such things as may be incidental and conducive to the efficient management of the affairs of Devaswom and the convenience of worshippers. 

The Court also analyzed the decision of the Full Bench of the Court and with respect to the same, it stated that the common order of the Full Bench enunciated that the movables, the immovable properties, the money dedicated or endowed in the name of Lord Guruvayurappan shall vest in the idol of Guruvayurappan consecrated in Sree Krishna Temple Guruvayur and the status G.D.M.C is that of a trustee in management of devaswom properties and as such it is is bound to perform its duties and act as per the provisions of the Act, 1978. It was further noted that the common order of the Full Bench following the C.K. Ranjan’s Case and the principles laid down in the cited precedents couldnot be construed as an apparent error on the face of the record which warranted correction/modification by allowing the review petitions.

Thus, the Court refused to entertain the review petitions instituted in the present case on account of being meritless. Accordingly, all the review petitions were dismissed. 

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