The Kerala High Court on Thursday upheld a state government ordinance reducing the term of the Travancore Devaswom Board members from three to two years. A division bench comprising justices P R Ramachandra Menon and Devan Ramachandran dismissed the pleas filed by Prayar Gopalakrishnan and Ajay Tharayil, former president and member respectively of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), challenging the ordinance.
The government was well within its authority to take such a decision, the bench said. It upheld the government stand that its action was only to reduce the enhanced three-year term to two years. In their petitions, Gopalakrishnan and Ajay, both appointed by the previous UDF Government, said the Supreme Court has held that the power of ordinance making cannot be exercised for extraneous or political considerations.
They submitted that ordinance making was now subject to judicial review and can be interdicted if sufficient grounds were made out, including that of malafide, political motive and misuse of power of ordinance making. Earlier, in its affidavits the government had informed the court that the appointments of A Padmakumar and K P Sankaradas as president and member respectively of the board were sustainable in law.
The affidavits were filed in response to the petitions filed by Gopalakrishnan and Ajay. The government had issued the ordinance in November last year, paving the way for replacing incumbent president Gopalakrishnan and member Ajay. The ordinance also curtailed the tenure of TDB members from three years to two years. The Devaswom board administers several temples in the state.