Constitutional courts can’t interfere with temple rituals: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday said constitutional courts could not interfere with day-to-day rituals and sevas performed in temples on the basis of “public interest” petitions.

Religious scholars and priests were best equipped to go into the question whether rituals in a temple were being conducted in accordance with customs and traditions.

The writ jurisdiction of a constitutional court under Articles 226 and 32 was limited. Whether a particular ritual was being performed in the right way or not was a “disputed question of fact”, the court explained. At most, it could be a subject for filing a civil suit in a subordinate court.

“How a coconut should be broken or a pooja should be done in a temple is not for a constitutional court to look into,” Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said.

The Bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli, was hearing a writ petition filed by Srivari Daadaa alleging that rituals were not being performed as per traditions at the famous Tirumala Tirupati temple. He also complained about the procedure for darshan.

Justices Bopanna and Kohli agreed the Supreme Court could not interfere with the daily conduct of rituals in a temple on the basis of a writ petition.

The court said, at the most, it could ask the temple administration to clarify in case devotees complain about discrimination or of not allowing darshan while taking into consideration the current public health crisis.

Disposing of the case, the court, in its order, directed the Tirupati administration to respond to Mr. Daadaa’s grievances regarding darshan procedures and other administrative issues within eight weeks.

The court said Mr. Daadaa could file a civil suit in a lower court to dispute factual issues regarding the performance of rituals.

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