The Kerala government has defended the existing system of the management of temples by Travancore and Cochin Devaswom boards, saying the state can control the secular affairs of a temple by suitable measures.
The Devaswom boards, the government said, have "towering personalities who had excelled in their spheres as chairmen/presidents and members" and thus the allegation that most of the cases leads to appointment of undeserved persons is baseless.
The affidavit filed by Kerala government says that the allegation of "favouritism, cronyism, patronisation and even nepotism" in the choice of candidates is unfounded.
The state government told a bench of Justice Uday Umesh Lali and Justice Indira Banerjee that the provision of the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950, including Section 4, 62, and 63 are intra vires of the Constitution.
"The right to stand as a candidate and contest and election to the Travancore and Cochin Devaswom boards as well as the right to elect a member to the said boards are rights created by statute and not a fundamental right", Kerala told the top court in its affidavit.
Kerala said this in its response to a petition by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking to free the Devaswom boards of government control, leaving the management of temples to the devotees.
Swamy has moved the top court challenging the High Court order not accepting his plea.
The top court had in October last year sought the response of Kerala government, the Travancore Devaswom Board and the Cochin Devaswom Board on the petition by Swamy and T.G. Mohandas.
Adjourning the matter, the court on Wednesday said it will hear it on January 31.