Protection of Mahakaleshwar's
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A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit observed that it would not go into the issue of what religious rituals should be followed and how worship should be performed there. It was for the temple management and the concerned stakeholders to discuss and decide. Also, Supreme Court’s concern is limited to Protection of Mahakaleshwar’s “Lingam”

Facts

The apex court has been dealing with the issue of protecting the ‘lingam’. It had earlier taken strong exception over some display boards set up at the temple which had attributed new worshipping norms as directions of the top court.

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It had said the court had never given any direction to implement the new norms of worship, which were actually submitted by Mahakaleshwar Mandir Management Committee in consultation with an expert committee set up by the court.

It had directed the temple management committee to immediately remove these display boards and even asked the media to report the issue with caution.

As per the new norms, the devotees were permitted a fixed amount of water measuring 500 ml in an appropriate small pot per person for ‘Jalabhishek’ (worshipping by offering water).

Order

The Bench gave the order that “We are only concerned about the ‘lingam’. And reserved it order on the issue of protection of the deteriorating condition of the ‘Jyotirlingam’, a phallus symbolising Shiva.

“We are not here to order how puja should be performed. It is not our job to order methods of religious ceremonies. It is for the temple management and other stakeholders to discuss and decide among themselves what should be done and what should not. We are concerned only about the lingam which has been deteriorating,” observed a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.

Justice Mishra added that the Court does not have to issue directions, say, how to conduct the bhasma aarti, as to what rituals can, or what rituals cannot be, performed.

Justice Mishra further observed that the apex court was not at all bothered about the fight between the pujaris and pandas in the temple.

The bench asked all parties, including the temple management and state government, to submit their suggestions on how to protect the lingam. It reserved its judgment on this point.

The Court also criticized the order passed by a single bench in the Madhya Pradesh High Court whereby several bylaws had been tinkered with and a string of directions had been issued to the management of the temple.

“How did a single bench entertain a PIL? Only a division bench can hear a PIL in MP High Court. And then the single bench granted you reliefs that you did not even ask for. How could this be done? It was completely improper. The division bench rightly set it aside,”

“How did a single bench entertain a PIL? Only a division bench can hear a PIL in MP High Court. And then the single bench granted you reliefs that you did not even ask for. How could this be done? It was completely improper. The division bench rightly set it aside,” the bench told the lawyer appearing for the petitioner in the apex court.

It also pointed out that the petitioner was the wife of a pujari and that there could be some personal interests involved.

You have not come to the Court with clean hands. We don’t want to comment any further. We will confine ourselves only to the protection of the lingam in the interest of the worshippers,” said the Court while reserving its judgment.

The committee was also directed to study other structures and the temple and submit recommendations on steps for overall improvement of entire premises and its preservation.

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