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Allahabad High Court Dismisses PIL Challenging 'Sugam Darshan' System Of Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Sparsh Upadhyay
30 Nov 2021 2:54 PM GMT
Allahabad High Court Dismisses PIL Challenging Sugam Darshan System Of Kashi Vishwanath Temple
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The Allahabad High Court last week dismissed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) plea challenging the 'Sugam Darshan' system in the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Banaras, UP, which provides for 'VIP' (Very Important Person) mode of 'darshan' on payment of some amount.The Bench of Justice Manoj Misra and Justice Sameer Jain observed that the decision of the Board of Trustees of providing for...

The Allahabad High Court last week dismissed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) plea challenging the 'Sugam Darshan' system in the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Banaras, UP, which provides for 'VIP' (Very Important Person) mode of 'darshan' on payment of some amount.

The Bench of Justice Manoj Misra and Justice Sameer Jain observed that the decision of the Board of Trustees of providing for a 'Sugam Darshan' system does not fall within the ambit of judicial review.

The plea, moved by a law student Gajendra Singh Yadav, had averred that the Sugam system allows any person to become 'VIP' on payment of some amount and thereby discriminates against similarly situated people with not so much money.

Read more about the plea here: Kashi Vishwanath Temple: Plea In Allahabad High Court Challenges 'Sugam Darshan' Calling It 'System Of Collecting Money'

The matter in brief

The grievance of the petitioner was with regard to the decision of the Board of Trustees to have a system of 'SUGAM DARSHAN' which, according to the petitioner, violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 15, 25, and 26 of the Constitution of India.

It was the case of the petitioner that Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust which is constituted under the provisions of U.P. Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act, 1983 had certain duties cast upon it by Section 14 of the 1983 Act and one such duty is to provide facilities for the proper performance of worship by the pilgrims and worshippers.

It was the case of the petitioner that by providing a special facility of 'SUGAM DARSHAN' on payment of certain charges, in effect, the Board of Trustees had excluded a common man from exercising his right of worship and performing necessary religious practices connected therewith.

His counsel argued that the right to enter the temple, touch the Linga of Lord Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple, and personally perform pooja is an essential religious practice that needs to be protected, and by creating a special facility of 'SUGAM DARSHAN', the performance of established religious practice would be hampered and therefore, it was contended that the facility of 'SUGAM DARSHAN' violates the fundamental rights of a citizen of India, the believer in Lord Shiva.

On the other hand, the State Counsel argued that the facility of 'SUGAM DARSHAN' had been provided not with a view to exclude common worshippers or to prevent them from performing essential religious practices but with a view to enable a certain class of persons who by virtue of their physical disabilities or for other reasons are not in a position to stand in a queue to have Darshan.

To enable such a class of persons to exercise their right of worship, this facility had been carved out, which is not to exclude the other class of devotees of Lord Shiva, it was argued.

Against this backdrop, observing that the decision of the Board of Trustees does not fall within the ambit of judicial review, the High Court, while dismissing the PIL remarked thus:

"...once the Board of Trustees are vested with the power to fix fees for the performance of any worship, service, rituals, ceremony, or religious observance in the temple and in the exercise of such power, they make a decision to provide a facility of 'SUGAM DARSHAN' for those who, on account of their disability, be it physical or otherwise, cannot wait in a queue and, while taking such decision, they do not exclude the common class from exercising their right of worship or perform Puja as per religious practices, in our view, the decision of the Board of Trustees does not fall within the ambit of judicial review."

Case title - Gajendra Singh Yadav v. State Of U.P. And 2 Others

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