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Uttarakhand

Posted at: Jul 13, 2018, 12:48 AM; last updated: Jul 13, 2018, 12:48 AM (IST)

Priests can’t say no to rituals by members of lower castes

In landmark judgment, HC ends discrimination in temples

Other key decisions

  • The court ruled that all the persons, irrespective of their caste, are permitted to enter/visit any temple in the state
  • The high priests in the temples can’t refuse to accept alms offered by the pilgrims belonging to the lower caste
  • Any trained and qualified person could be appointed pujari, irrespective of his caste

Tribune News Service

Dehradun, July 12

In an attempt to end the practice of discrimination being allegedly practised by the temple priests, the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday ruled that no high caste priest in Uttarakhand will turn down request for performing religious ceremonies, rituals and poojas by the members belonging to lower castes in all religious places.

The division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh also ruled that all the persons, irrespective of their caste, are permitted to enter/visit any temple throughout the state of Uttarakhand without any discrimination in the spirit of Articles 14, 15(2), 17, 19, 21, 25, 29(2), 38, 46 and 51-A of the Constitution.

The judges also observed that ‘earlier untouchability’ was followed rigidly in Haridwar. The high priests in the temples refused to accept alms offered by the pilgrims belonging to the lower caste. “This is against the spirit of Articles 14, 15 and 17 of the Constitution of India,” noted the judges.

Significantly, the judges also ruled that any trained and qualified person could be appointed pujari, irrespective of his caste in the temples as laid down by Supreme Court.

Though the petition pertained to the dharamasala and shifting of a stair case by the state government the court broadened the scope of the petition.

To that end the court also directed the district administration of Haridwar to hold discussions with the members belonging to the SC and ST community about the proposed shifting of the staircase and also take steps for beautifying the temple dedicated to Saint Ravi Das.

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