New York, One of America’s largest Hindu temples has accused a judge of violating the separation of church and state by intervening in its affairs.
The magnificent, grey-towered Ganesha temple in Flushing, Queens, plans to file a motion in a federal court to stop state courts from forcing it to hold elections to its board of trustees, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Thousands of Hindus across the US are following the legal tussle closely.
In what was seen as a bitter defeat for the temple’s current 11-member board and a victory for six disaffected members, who had filed a suit to demand elections, a state appellate panel ordered the polls a year ago.
“We’re trying to prevent the court from imposing a non-Hindu form of control on the largest Hindu temple in America,” Roman Storzer, a lawyer representing the board of trustees, was quoted as saying.
But the plaintiffs say they merely want the temple to be managed in a democratic way.
Judge Joseph G. Golia of the State Supreme Court in Queens has said the trustees were being obstructive. In June, he hinted he might refer the case to the Queens district attorney’s office to see if the trustees had some corrupt motive for their position, The Times said.
The trustees called Golia’s hint a crude effort to intimidate them. They say they had cooperated fully with him and volunteered their financial information.
They also said Golia and the referee he appointed to oversee the elections, a Long Island lawyer named Anthony Piacentini, are consistently siding with the six plaintiffs against the temple’s current leadership.
Until recently, many of the temple’s 20,000 devotees were unaware of the legal struggle, but Indian newspapers are covering it and the members are taking notice, said The Times.