Kerala HC to judicial officers, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

KOCHI: Courts cannot be seen engaging in activities promoting a particular religion because they are secular democratic institutions under the Constitution, the Kerala high court said Tuesday while discouraging judicial officers’ participation at a Guruvayur temple event in Thrissur district.

The event, called “Kodathi Vilakku” (court lamp), comprises a host of rituals/programmes held in connection with Guruvayur Ekadashi. The temple is lit with lamps and ceremonies such as Udayasthamana Puja (dawn-to-dusk prayers) and elephant procession.

An official memorandum issued by the HC administration, on instructions from Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar, directed the principal district judge of Thrissur to communicate the directive to all judicial officers immediately.

“The judicial officers are advised not to actively involve themselves… either by consenting to be a part of the organising committee or in any other manner. They shall also not feel compelled or obliged to attend the event,” the HC said.

The court said it has been noticed that “Kodathi Vilakku” is being hosted annually by an organising committee comprising members of the Chavakkad Munsiff Court Bar Association. It said “there can be no objection to” members of the bar organising such events, but “the use of the name ‘Kodathi Vilakku’ is unacceptable” because it “gives the impression that the courts” are tied to the event.

“The fact that judicial officers of all ranks, including those professing other religions, feel compelled/obliged to attend the annual event that is invariably attended by the high court judges as well, indicates the extent to which the term ‘Kodathi Vilakku’ can be misleading,” it said.

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