Taking cognizance of a letter received from a priest ruing financial crisis faced by him and his brethren and the life of penury they are forced to lead, the Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday asked the State what financial help could it provide to maulvis, granthis/raagis and Hindu and Christian priests to enable them to make both ends meet.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari so ordered on a letter received by a priest named Subhash Joshi highlighting the financial difficulties faced by the Hindu priests who perform the Vedic rites and religious ceremonies throughout the State of Uttarakhand.
Joshi rued how they were all living a life of penury and were not able to impart education to their children and prayed for financial assistance and pension from the state government.
While taking note of the difficulties highlighted in the letter, the bench said the same could not be seen in isolation.
“Similar financial hardships would be faced by the Priests of all the religions including Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism etc. Primarily, it is a policy matter. The decision is to be taken by the State Government in its own wisdom by maintaining the fine balance qua all the religions as per the letter and spirit of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India,” said the bench.
“The priests belonging to all the communities assist the citizens to enjoy the freedom of conscience and to profess, practice and propagate their respective religion, though, subject to public order, morality and health.
“…we call upon the State Government to apprise this Court on the next date of hearing what financial assistance can be rendered to the Hindu Priests, Maulwis, Granthis/Raagis and Christian Priests to enable them to make both ends meet within the parameters of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India,” it said while leaving it open to the State Government to frame a policy in this regard.
It also permitted the Advocate General to have a discussion with the State’s finance minister on the issue which will now come up for hearing on September 6.