The Himachal Pradesh High Court Monday stayed the takeover of the famous Lord Raghunath temple by the state government. The move comes on a petition filed by Kullu MLA Maheshwar Singh who has questioned the constitutional and legal validity of the government’s move.
A Division Bench comprising Justices Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Chander Bhusan Barowalia also directed that no action be taken on the notification sent to Maheshwar Singh seeking details of temple assets.
The court will be heard next on August 11.
In the notice served on the Kullu MLA on July 26, a day after the Himachal cabinet cleared the takeover of the temple by the state government, Kullu Deputy Commissioner asked the MLA to hand over all temple properties, movable and immovable, including cash books of the temple, to the state government within seven days.
Maheshwar Singh and his son Danvender Singh, in their petition, have asserted that the temple is their private property and is maintained by the MLA, who is the chief caretaker, and cannot be taken over under the Himachal Pradesh Hindu Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1984.
“The action is illegal and unconstitutional. The notification is politically motivated and should be quashed,” said Maheshwar Singh, who is a scion of the erstwhile royal family of Kullu.
Maheshwar Singh, a former Lok Sabha member from Mandi, quit the BJP and formed his political outfit Himachal Lokhit Party to contest the 2012 assembly elections. He was elected from Kullu .
Lord Raghunath temple , a 17th century shrine is part of Maheshwar Singh’s palace, where his brother Karan Singh, a cabinet minister, also resides.
Interestingly, Karan Singh backed the government decision for takeover even as Maheshwar Singh accused Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Karan Singh for the “politically motivated action”.
When contacted, Maheshwar Singh said: “The Chief Minister’s vindictive action was an outcome of his autocratic way of functioning. He should shun his ego, otherwise he will face the curse of Lord Raghunath and Kullu deities.”