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Entry of a Non-Hindu cannot be Restricted from entering a Temple: Madras High Court

Report by Rhea Mistry

In C. Soman v. Secretary of Hindu Religious and Charitable Department and others, Mr. C. Soman filed the petition under Article 226 of the constitution stating to issue a ‘writ of mandamus’ asserting that the respondents shall not permit Non-Hindu entry in the temples.

The petitioner brought to court’s notice an invitation sent to a minister who is a Christian for conducting the Kumbabishegam festival. The petitioner is of the opinion that during this festival a Non-Hindu should not be permitted to enter the temple as this is a Hindu festival, celebrated in the Arulmighu Adikesava Perumal Thirukovil at Thiruvattar which is in Kanyakumari District.

In the order, the court said:

“In our considered opinion, when a public festival like the Kumababishegam of a temple is performed, it will be impossible for the authorities to check the religious identity of every devotee for the purpose of permitting his entry into the temple. That apart, if a person belonging to another religion, has faith in a particular Hindu deity, that cannot be prevented nor can his entry into a temple be prohibited. It is common knowledge that the devotional songs of Dr.K.J.Yesudas, a Christian by birth, rendered on various Hindu Gods are played without any demur in temples. In fact, in Nagore Dargah and Vailankanni Church, scores of Hindus worship.”

The Madras High Court said that the authorities can’t check whether the person is a Hindu and who is not a Hindu as an ample of people visit to attend the Hindu festival Kumbabishegam. The court also claimed that if a Christian has faith and belief in the Hindu religion and adheres to the religion, then they cannot be prohibited to enter the temple.

The court stated that if a person who is not a Hindu has faith in any religion and adheres to it, they cannot to stopped to enter and offering their prayers. It is not in the court matter to identify the faith of the people in the religion. It will hurt the sentiments of the people if the court starts determining the faith in the religion and restricting Non-Hindus entry into the temple.

In this case, the court on 4th July 2022, passed the judgment that any person who is a Non- Hindu cannot be restricted entry into the Hindu Temple if they believe and have faith in the deity. The court decided to take a “parochial view” and prefers to approach it from a broader perspective. The Hon’ble Madras High Court dismissed this writ petition for reason that it “being devoid of merits” with no charges or costs.

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