In what can be described as a step into the digital world, a judge was conducted for a case through 'WhatsApp' for the first time in Madras High Court's history. Justice G R Swaminathan took the case while being stationed in Nagercoil, where he was attending a marriage function on May 15. On the back of the submission of P R Srinivasan, the hereditary trustee of Shri Abheeshta Varadaraja Swamy temple, his village will be facing the 'divine wrath' if the proposed 'Rath' (Car) festival is not held on May 16.
"This fervent prayer of the writ petitioner made me hold an emergency sitting from Nagercoil and conduct the case through Whatsapp," the judge was quoted as saying by Economic Times in his opening sentence of the order.
First Hight Court Verdict On WhatsApp!
The session was triangular, which had the judge hearing the case from Nagercoil, Advocate-General R Shanmugasundaram, at another place in the city and petitioner's counsel V Raghavachari at another location. The matter pertained to a temple in the Dharmapuri district.
Holding that the Inspector attached to the Hindu Religious and Charitable Department did not have the jurisdiction to release an order asking the temple Thakkar (Fit person) and the hereditary trustee to prohibit the car festival, the judge had quashed the same.
Previously, the AG had informed the judge that the government did not oppose the holding of the event, and their only concern was the safety of the general public. On the back of the failure to adhere to safety standards, an unfortunate event struck in a fairly similar procession in the Thanjavur district very recently, he emphasised and pointed out that accidents of such should not recur.
Upon pointing out defects in the impugned communication, the procession can be performed, and the state government might not have any objection, he further said.
Quashing the impugned order, the judge then directed the temple authorities to follow all the rules and regulations strictly, which were released by the government while holding temple festivals and the state-run discom TANGEDCO to shut down the power supply in the location for a few hours, from the start of the processions till it arrives back to its stand (Nilai).
A total of eleven individuals were killed on the spot, while 17 more were injured in April this year near Thanjavur from electrocution after a temple chariot came in contact with a high tension electricity line during a procession.