Hindus, irrespective of caste can enter Hindu temple: Orissa HC
Cuttack, Dec 5 (UNI) In a landmark judgement, Orissa High Court today ruled that every Hindu irrespective of his/her caste including the Dalit has right to enter any Hindu temple for worship.
The order came following a PIL filed by advocate Akhaya Kumar Mallick on October 7 alleging that the Kendrapada district administration and the local police were not taking any step to protect the rights of the Dalits to enter into the Jagannath temple at Keredagada.
The petitioner said that the upper caste people have been opposing the Dalits to enter into the temple on the pretext that the Royal family, who built the temple, had imposed a ban on Dalits to enter into the temple and worship the Lord.
This had caused a lot of resentment in the area during the past one year and the Dalits in the locality recently threatened to enter into the temple forcibly.
The confrontation between the upper caste and the dalits, however, was avoided when the High Court in an interim order last month said only the priests of the temple could get in pending the final judgment of the case.
Disposing the petition today, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Sujit Barman Ray and Justice M M Das said ''Every Hindu irrespective of his/her caste has a right to enter into any Hindu temple which is open to other persons professing the same religion''.
The court directed the Kendrapara district administration to take appropriate action provided under the law at the temple site over the issue of entry into the place of worship.
The district administration had earlier moved the court seeking a ''status quo'' in view of tension mounting in the area as thousands of dalits were planning to enter into the temple.
The court vacated its earlier interim order on November 24 banning the entry of people, except the priests and sevayats into the 300-year old temple, built by the erstwhile Kanika King.
Hearing a batch of intervening petitions along with the PIL, the Bench relied upon the provisions made in Article 17 of the Constitution, which prevents practice of untouchability and the provisions of Protection of Civil Rights Act-1955 while disposing of the case.
The Ambedkar-Lohia Vichar Manch representing through its counsel Khirod Kumar Rout as an intervener, stated that section 3 of the Protection of Civil Rights Act-1955 stated that anybody who practices untouchability invites punishment under the law. He had prayed before the court to provide security on the rights of the Dalits to enter into the temple.
UNI DP PC SRC SY RS2038