Apex Court Bench headed by Justice T.S. Thakur, on Monday observed that in case the right to worship of followers of Shirdi Sai Baba has been hampered, a civil suit or criminal case can be filed against Shankaracharya of Dwarkapeeth Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati. The Court however refused to intervene on the controversial statement made by Shankaracharya regarding worshiping of Sai Baba.
The petition filed by Saidham Charitable Trust, which manages various temples in Maharashtra including that of Sai Baba, stated, "The belief and religious sentiments of lakhs of devotees of the trust and also of crores of devotees of Shri Sai Baba located in India and outside have been irreparably hurt by the libelous, slanderous, defamatory, insulting and abusive language and words used by Shri Shankaracharyaji and his followers.”
The petitioner had submitted that the Government should be ordered to restrain Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati and his followers not to make any statements against the saint. It also pleaded that he and his followers be not allowed to remove Sai Baba's idols from any temple across the country. It accused the Government of not taking any action to protect and respect the sentiments of the devotees.
The petition also sought to restraint media from telecasting, broadcasting and publishing anything that is insulting or defamatory to the Sai Baba of Shirdi.
Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati had rapped the followers of Sai Baba, saying, "Hinduism is governed by Shastra and Vedas and there is no mention of Sai Baba. He should not be worshipped with Hindu gods... Muslims don't revere Sai Baba as much as Hindus do, who seem unaware of the 'adharma' they commit by worshipping him.""They may burn my effigy or even send me to jail, but my campaign to protect the sanctity of the Hindu religion will continue... Sai Baba was a Muslim faqir who cannot be compared to Hindu deities or worshipped like them," he added.