The Kerala High Court has invalidated the state government’s appointment of CN Raman, associated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPM], as the Commissioner of Tiruvitamcoor Dewaswom Board. The court ruling highlighted that the appointment lacked consultation with the state’s apex court and emphasised Raman’s insufficient qualifications for the position. Importantly, the court declared that Raman would not be entitled to retirement benefits.
CN Raman assumed the role of Tiruvitamcoor Devaswom Board Commissioner on December 14, 2023. Subsequently, a petition challenging Raman’s appointment was filed before the High Court, leading to the court’s decision to annul the appointment. It’s noteworthy that the court’s decision coincided with Raman’s retirement date.
The High Court had previously instructed the state government to consult with it before making such appointments to similar positions. It underscored that Raman’s appointment during the Sabarimala season violated the rules, as the court was actively handling cases related to Tiruvitamcoor Dewaswom on a daily basis.
During the recent Sabarimala Pilgrim Season, the Tiruvitamcoor Board faced legal challenges due to various reasons, with pilgrims expressing dissatisfaction over poor arrangements. There were complaints about devotees removing their bead garlands and leaving without attempting to reach the shrine due to the overwhelming crowd and inadequate amenities. However, Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishan dismissed these concerns, labelling them as misinformation and asserting that only pseudo-devotees returned.
Hindu leaders contested the minister’s authority to distinguish genuine devotion from pseudo-devotion, citing instances of perceived disrespect to the temple traditions. The minister’s actions, such as reportedly disrespecting the theertha (holy water) during a previous visit and allegedly showing a lack of reverence during the recent pilgrimage season, fueled discontent among devotees.
The atheistic attitude of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government towards Sabarimala has left pilgrims and devotees dissatisfied. The controversial attempts in 2018 to facilitate the temple entry of young women, violating temple traditions, still linger in the minds of the faithful. The recent episode involving CN Raman, reported to be the state president of the CPM-controlled Travancore Dewaswom Employees Federation, has further fueled discontent.
The Kerala High Court’s decision to revoke Raman’s appointment serves as a significant setback to the perceived anti-Hindu stance of the government. The ruling underscores the importance of adherence to legal procedures and qualifications in appointments to key religious positions. It also adds to the ongoing debates surrounding the administration’s approach to Sabarimala and the preservation of religious traditions in the state.