‘Whole world suffering’: SC on urgent hearing plea for temple reopening

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to give urgent hearing on a plea seeking direction to the Jharkhand government to consider reopening of Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple, one of the twelve ‘jyotirlingas’ of Lord Shiva, in the state’s Deoghar.

Advocate Prashant Kumar, representing the petitioner, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana that number of Covid cases in Jharkhand are very low. He submitted that temple can be considered for reopening for devotees for two months during ‘Shravani Mela’ and pointed out that entries were restricted due to Covid-19 protocol.

At this, Chief Justice Ramana said: “Why should we give priority to this. When the whole world is suffering, you want to reopen.”

The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and A.S. Bopanna, said there was no urgency to hear the plea. As the advocate insisted for early hearing on the plea, the Chief Justice, disallowing the urgent listing of the petition, said: “Yes, yes, there is no Covid you know.”

In July last year, the top court had declined to interfere with the Jharkhand High Court order passed, on a plea of BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, rejecting the prayer for allowing reopening of both the historic temples nd holding of annual Shravani Mela in Deoghar, and only allowed virtual darshan.

Then, the top court had noted that when country was in the process of re-opening, then religious places – which includes temples, mosques, and churches – could be considered for reopening. The apex court had then asked the state government to examine opening the temple complex for devotees.