A single bench of Justice N Anand Venkatesh of Madras High Court while directing the district authorities to remove a stone that residents have claimed as a religious idol, which is obstructing the entrance to a private property, said that one cannot declare any stone to be a religious idol by simply covering it with a cloth.
The Court recently heard a petition from Shakthi Murugan of Chengalapattu district, requesting police protection to remove a stone situated near the entrance of his private property.
The petitioner claimed that the stone, draped in green cloth, was blocking his access to the property, but locals were preventing its removal, stating that it was a religious idol and should not be disturbed.
The State suggested the matter was a civil dispute and should be resolved in a civil court, however, Justice Venkatesh disagreed.
The bench argued that no court could determine whether the stone was a mere stone or an idol, making the dispute inappropriate for a civil court.
The bench said “A very funny situation will arise before the civil Court wherein the seventh respondent will claim that the stone must be treated as an idol and the petitioner will state that it is merely a stone and not an idol. It will become impossible for the Court to decide whether it is a stone or it has uplifted itself into the status of an idol. Fortunately, in our country, no court exercises ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It is quite unfortunate that such superstitious beliefs continue to prevail in the society and people do not seem to evolve by passage of time. No useful purpose will be served by initiating proceedings before the civil Court and in fact, it will be a waste of judicial time to ponder over such a frivolous issue”.
“This Court carefully went through the photographs that were placed for the consideration of the Court. It is seen that the stone has been planted right in front of the property belonging to the petitioner. By covering that stone with a green cloth, an attempt is made by someone to call it as an idol, on that ground, the petitioner is not allowed to enjoy his property and the petitioner is not able to remove the stone. For this purpose, it is not possible for the petitioner to approach the civil court”.
The bench instructed the local district authorities and police to respond to Murugan’s complaint and take necessary measures to remove the stone.