Adherents of Sanatana Dharma approach Supreme Court against order permitting Non Hindu's to leasehold shops in Hindu Temple premises

  • Ratna Singh
  • 01:16 PM, 07 Jan 2022
  • Last month, the Supreme Court had stayed an Andhra Pradesh High Court order which upheld a Government Order (GO) by Endowment Commissioner permitting only Hindus to obtain lease and license to shops and malls belonging to Hindu religious institutions to the extent that it allowed people from all faiths to hold and lease shops in the temple premises of Brahmaramba Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, Andhra Pradesh
  • The applicants who are followers of Sanatana Dharma seek impleadment in the ongoing case and vacation of stay of interim order on ground of Articles 25 & 26 of the Constitution.

Adherents of Sanatana Dharma have filed an application seeking vacation of interim stay in the order of the top court permitting people from all religions to participate in lease of shops in a Hindu temple of Andhra Pradesh on the ground of Article(s) 25 & 26 of the Indian Constitution.

Supreme Court on December 17th, vide an interim order, had allowed people from all religions to participate in process of lease of shopping complexes/shops in Brahmaramba Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, Andhra Pradesh stating that none of the tenants/shop holders shall be excluded from participating in the auction or from the grant of leases including in the shopping complex on the ground of their religion.

A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AS Bopanna while hearing the plea which challenged a judgment of Andhra Pradesh High Court, upholding the Government Order (GO) by Endowment Commissioner which stated that only Hindus shall obtain lease and license to shops and malls in premises belonging to Hindu religious institutions had passed the above orders.

According to the plea filed by Advocte Vishnu Jain, preparation of material for Bhog, Prasad and performing rituals are essential and integral part of Hindu religion and same cannot be separated in any manner. The process of pooja starts with the collection of material object of worship i.e. sweets, flowers, milk etc.

“Therefore, the devotees have right to purchase/collect the object of worship from the shops/persons of their choice who believe in the authority of Lord Mallikarjun and have sentiments in preparing such articles maintaining the cleanness and purity as required in traditional Pooja,” states the application.

The plea submits that, the applicants are regular worshippers of Lord Mallikarjun Asthan and the temple situated at the top Hindu community and they have reservations in offering those articles from non-Hindus namely Muslims and Christians. The Hindu devotees have every right to offer Bhog, Prasad etc. to the deity according to their religious practice and belief.

The applicant has stated preparation of material for Bhog, Prasad and performing rituals are essential and integral part of Hindu religion and same cannot be separated in any manner as the devotees will be compelled to face "prejudicial attitude of the non-Hindu's" & "will be deprived of their right to practice their belief & customs".

“The process of pooja starts with the collection of material object of worship i.e. sweets, flowers, milk etc. Therefore, the devotees have right to purchase/collect the object of worship from the shops/persons of their choice who believe in the authority of Lord Mallikarjun and have sentiments in preparing such articles maintaining the cleanliness and purity as required in traditional Pooja,” states the application

Further, the impleadment application seeks to justify that their role in the ongoing case is necessary as "taking advantage of the latches latitude of Hindu community previously the Government had also granted license to the members of the non-Hindu community within the temple area"

While highlighting the issues faced by the devotees, the applicants state that this led to desecration of the object of worship and also "prejudicial activities within temple premises",

"They even propagate their own religion and ladies were also molested, abducted and kidnapped. The State Administration remained silent spectator due to political reasons," the Plea states.

Thereby, the applicants moved the applications for impleadment as Respondent as they want to contest the case as devotees so as to protect their right and interest as devotee, worshippers of Lord Mallikarjun and Goddess Shakti.

Background:

The Special Leave Petition in which the Supreme Court had granted interim stay on the GO had challenged the judgment further on the grounds that the administration of properties belonging to a religious group are not matters of religion covered under Article 26 (B) of Constitution of India and that permitting public auction without illegal and arbitrary restrictions does not take away constitutional rights of administration in the hands of a religious denomination.

The GO under challenge was passed amending Rule 2(2) K, amending Rule 4(2) and Rule 7(4) and adding Rule 18 of Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and' Endowments Immovable Properties and Other Right (Other than Agricultural Lands) Leases and Licenses Rules, 2003.

[Case Title – T.M.D. Rafi & Ors v. State of Andhra Pradesh]