The Andhra Pradesh High Court recently ruled that individuals who are not Hindus and are followers of other faiths shall not be employed in Hindu temples. “Only those who follow Hindu religion are eligible to work in temples,” the court said.
The said order was issued by Justice Harinath Nunepally recently while rejecting a petition filed by P. Sudershan Babu challenging his dismissal from service by the top executive of the Srisailam Devasthanam.
The individual was removed from the service after the Devasthanam discovered that he had concealed his Christian identity to receive a compassionate appointment as a record assistant in 2002.
Sudershan Babu in the year 2022 falsely claimed that he belonged to the Hindu faith and was a member of the SC (Mala) community.
Later, in 2010, he tied the knot with a Christian woman in the Holy Cross Church. This led to several complaints being filed in his name for obtaining the job at a Devasthanam by concealing his original identity. The said complaints then prompted an inquiry by the Lokayukta.
Sudershan Babu claimed in his reply to the Lokayukta’s notice that he wasn’t hiding his faith and produced his caste and school certifications.
The Lokayukta however discovered that Sudershan Babu got the job by masking his religion after reviewing various documents. Following this, the EO of the Srisailam temple issued orders dismissing him from service.
Sudershan Babu in the year 2012 then filed an appeal with the High Court, challenging his expulsion from service.
After reviewing various documents during the hearing, Justice Harinath stated that the petitioner’s religion was listed as Christian in the Holy Cross Church register, and it bore the petitioner’s signature.
“If Sudershan Babu had married the woman without converting to Christianity, the marriage should have been registered under the Special Marriages Act, 1954, and the marriage certificate should have been issued as per the Act. However, this was not done in Sudershan Babu’s case,” Justice Harinath said.
Notably, in January this year, the Supreme Court also disallowed the state government from interfering in the temple management. “Why should not religious places be left to religious people?” Justice Kaul said while refusing to entertain the Andhra Pradesh government’s plea challenging the state High Court’s verdict, which stated that the state government’s decision to designate an “Executive Officer” to oversee and manage the affairs of the Ahobilam Temple in Kurnool was unlawful.