SC Suggests Allowing Visitors of All Faith to Offer at Jagannath Temple

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July 06, 2018

Case name: Mrinalini Padhi v. Union of India

Date of Order: July 05, 2018

In the case, the Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court was considering the District Judge’s report issued in pursuance of the Court’s order, whereby the District Judge had reported suggestions for the management of Sri Jagganath Temple in Orissa.

While considering the suggestions in the Report, the Supreme Court noted that the Temple Management can consider, subject to such regulatory measures with regard to dress code, furnishing of a declaration or such other requirements as considered necessary permitting every visitor irrespective of his faith to offer respects and make offerings to the Deity.

The Supreme Court made the aforesaid suggestion in view of its order in the case of Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sangam and ors. vs. Government of Tamil Nadu and anr.[1], wherein it was observed that “Religion incorporates the particular belief(s) that a group of people subscribe to. Hinduism, as a religion, incorporates all forms of belief without mandating the selection of elimination of any one single belief. It is a religion that has no single founder; no single scripture and no single set of teachings. It has been described as Sanatan Dharma, namely, eternal faith, as it is the collective wisdom and inspiration of the centuries that Hinduism seeks to preach and propagate. It is keeping in mind the above precepts that we will proceed further.”

The Court noted that the suggestion was made by it in view of the fact that Hinduism does not eliminate any other belief and is eternal faith and wisdom and inspiration of centuries.

While considering the issue of difficulties being faced by the visitors, exploitative practices, deficiencies in the management, maintenance of hygiene, proper utilization of offerings and protection of assets in Shrines and Temples in India, the Apex Court has directed that if any devotee moves the jurisdictional District Judge throughout the India with any grievance on the above aspect, the District Judge may either himself or by assigning the issue to any other Court under his jurisdiction examine above aspects and if necessary send a report to the High Court. Thereafter, the High Court shall consider these aspects in public interest in accordance with law.

The caser is next listed for hearing on September 9, 2018.

The order can be accessed here.

 

[1] 2016 (2) SCC 725