Dismissing a PIL, a division bench of justices R Sudhakar and Aruna Jagadeesan of the Madurai bench said an individual showing respect to his occupational tools could not be said to offend the secular nature of the State.
"Ayudha puja is referable to prayer, reverence or respect given to objects through which an individual performs his profession or occupation. Ayudha puja in its real terms transcends all religion," the bench said. Petitioner S P Muthuraman had sought a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to prohibit all religious activities such as Ayudha puja and Saraswati puja within the precincts of government offices, and referred to representations made by him and also a 1993 government order and an April 22, 2010 government circular.
Justice Sudhakar, who wrote the judgement, observed, "Irrespective of religion, Ayudha puja is a reverence shown by cobblers, weavers, farmers, autorickshaw drivers, rickshaw pullers, carpenters, shopkeepers, chartered accountants, advocates, doctors, housewives, drivers, etc to objects which
they use to earn their livelihood.
"Similarly, Saraswati puja is referable to showing respect to education, knowledge and the script."
It pointed out that Ayudha puja and Saraswati puja were government holidays and it could not be concluded that it was the State which performed those pujas at office.
It said the government order and circular related to new constructions and expansion of present ones within government office complexes and not with an individuals right to offer puja.
An individual's right to freedom of conscience was permitted in Article 25 of the Constitution and the government was entitled to regulate such activities, the bench said and rejected the relief sought on the ground that it was likely to cause disharmony among various groups.
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