A petition in the Supreme Court filed against government control over religious places of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists was adjourned till September 19. The court directed the petitioner to produce concrete documents and data. The petitioner sought two weeks’ time for this. A bench headed by Chief Justice UU Lalit will now hear the petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay on September 19 next.
The petitions filed by Upadhyay and others have said that the state governments have the right to maintain and manage Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist religious institutions, but Muslims, Parsis and Christians themselves control their institutions. It has been said in the petition that there are 35 laws to control four lakh mutts and temples but there is not a single law for mosques, mazars, dargahs and churches.
The petition said that just as Muslims and Christians have the right to manage their religious institutions, so should Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.
The petitioner’s lawyer Arvind Dutta told the court that the law of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Telangana has been challenged as the government is taking 58 main temples under its control. This, he said, is a direct violation of the constitutional right.
Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan said that 15,000 temples in Karnataka were closed because they did not have money for management. The Supreme Court said that the money coming to the temples belongs to the common people and goes back to the common people.
Earlier, in April 2019, while taking note of the fact that several devotees visiting the Jagannath temple in Puri were being harassed, the Supreme Court, had asked why should government officials manage religious places and temples in the country. “It is a matter of perspective. I do not know why government officials should manage temples?” Justice SA Bobde observed during the hearing.
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