Dehradun, July 12: In a landmark ruling, the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday held that members of lower castes could also become Pujari (priest) in the temples. The High Court also said doors of the temples across the state would be opened for all irrespective of their castes.
“It is made clear that any properly trained and qualified person can be appointed as pujari irrespective of his caste in the temples,” the court further stated in its order," the Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh said, as reported by Indian Express.
"All the persons, irrespective of their caste, are permitted to enter any temple throughout the State of Uttarakhand without any discrimination," the bench added. It also said upper-caste priests cannot refuse to perform rituals for members belonging to lower castes.
“The high caste priests throughout the State of Uttarakhand shall not refuse to perform religious ceremonies, puja, or rituals on behalf of the members belonging to lower castes in all the religious places and temples,” the bench ruled while hearing a PIL filed in 2016 by those belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe category.
Patrons of a dharamshala (hospice) at Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar had filed a PIL to shift a staircase leading to a nearby Sant Ravidas temple to a different location. Upper caste members had objected to this arguing that it could affect the flow of pilgrims.
The Uttarakhand High Court asked the stakeholders to resolve the issue amongst themselves.