It would be better to shut down temples if they end up being cause for violence, the Madras High Court remarked on Friday, while hearing a case of dispute between two religious groups over a temple festival, Live Law reported.

Justice Anand Venkatesh made the comment, noting that religious groups use temple festivals as an opportunity to show their clout.

“There is no devotion involved in conducting these festivals and rather it has become a show of strength by one group or the other,” the judge said, according to Live Law.

The court dismissed a plea for police protection for conducting a festival at the Sri Ruthra Maha Kaliyamman Alayam temple in Mayiladuthurai city of Tamil Nadu, reported the Times of India. In his plea, K Thangarasu, who claimed to be the hereditary trustee of the temple, had contended that the police should provide protection for the week-long festival starting on Sunday, as there were concerns of untoward incidents.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government had told the court that two rival groups were engaged in a dispute over who had the right to place the idol inside the temple during the festival. After a peace committee failed to resolve the conflict, the state government submitted that holding the festival could lead to law and order problems and neither of the groups should be allowed to place the idol, Live Law reported.

In its judgement, the court noted that the police have more important functions to perform, and their time and energy should not be invested in resolving disputes between rival groups in a temple.

“If temples are going to perpetuate violence, the existence of temples will have no meaning and in all such cases, it would be better to close down those temples so that the violence can be averted,” Justice Venkatesh remarked.

The court also directed the police to take necessary actions in case a law and order situation arises.