In the factual Matrix Narayanakutty K v The Special Devaswom Board & Anr Aanayoottu, the Bhagavathy Seva, and the Ashtadravya Mahaganapathy Homam at the Sree Vadakkumnathan Temple were advertised on hoardings and advertisement boards, which the petitioner submitted multiple images of when the contempt of court case was being filed against them. When the Court questioned the standing attorney for the Cochin Devaswom Board, the attorney said that the Board had not given the Temple Advisory Committee authority to install any hoardings or billboards. The Temple Advisory Committee’s asserted that the committee’s officers had already been told to take down the hoardings and billboards seen in the photos.
Observation of the Court
An order was issued by the Kerala High Court’s division bench of Justices Anil K. Narendran and PG Ajithkumar in response to a contempt of court case filed alleging willful disregard of an earlier ruling by the Court. The order instructed political and religious organisations in the State not to erect any hoardings, advertisement boards, or temporary structures that impede traffic and pedestrian movement in public areas.
The Cochin Devaswom Board has been instructed to make sure that no obstructions to the right of way or amenities for pedestrians on pathways be installed by temples under its supervision. Campaigning or protests by political parties or organisations are not permitted on footpaths because they hinder walkers’ freedom of movement. In conjunction with such protests or demonstrations, no political party or organisation may infringe on footpaths or the right-of-way of public highways. During yearly festivals and religious festivities, this includes prohibiting hoardings, advertisement boards, and temporary constructions from being built on the pedestrian amenities of public roadways surrounding temple property. After taking note of these arguments, the Court instructed the Devaswom Officer of the Vadakkumnatha Devaswom to ensure that the April 11 judgment’s instructions were strictly followed. The subject will be discussed again on July 19.
CASE NAME – Narayanakutty K v The Special Devaswom Board & Anr DBP NO. 35 OF 2023