Dress Code for Temple Entry in Uttarakhand mandated

Temple authorities in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun districts have imposed a ban on the entry of devotees not wearing appropriate clothing. What are the grounds of imposition of Dress code?
  • Places of worship have their own sanctity and individuals come here with faith to offer prayers.”
Who can impose such restrictions?
  • Either the Courts has a power to impose restrictions based on appropriate laws defined in a particular state government, for example Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947.
  • The Courts also permits individual temple managements to prescribe dress code as per their ‘customary and traditional practices’.
Constitutional Articles related to Freedom of Religion:
  • Article 25 says that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.
    • Freedom of conscience: Inner freedom of an individual to frame his relation with God or Creatures in whatever way he desires.
    • Right to Profess: Declaration of one’s religious beliefs and faith openly and freely.
    • Right to Practice: Performance of religious worship, rituals, ceremonies and exhibition of beliefs and ideas.
    • Right to Propagate: Transmission and promotion of one’s religious beliefs to others. But, it does not include a right to convert another person to one’s own religion.
    • Article 25 covers religious beliefs and also religious practices (rituals).
  • Article 26: Freedom to Manage Religious Affairs, every religious denomination or any of its section shall have the following rights:
    • Right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes.
    • Right to manage its own affairs in matters of religion.
    • Right to own and acquire movable and immovable property.
    • Right to administer such property in accordance with law
Are these restrictions being challenged in Court of law?
  • Yes, the restrictions placed in terms of Dress code can be challenged in High Court or the Supreme Court (SC).
Supreme Courts’ View:
  • The Supreme Court in the case of Sri Adi Visheshwara of Kashi Vishwanath temple of Varanasi and others vs. State of UP and others stated that;
    • The every Hindu has a right of entry to the Hindu temple and worships the deity.
    • The Apex Court has denied the denominational status while stating that Every Hindu has a right to enter into the temple.
    • The blanket and self-drawn power of the board of the temple to impose the dress code is not only unconstitutional but also crushing the choice of individual to wear the clothes of their own choice.
A Balance between Rights to Freedom of Religion and Right of Choice:
  • The Supreme has recognized the deity as a juristic person and being in the capacity the deity avails their right.
  • The Authority can restrict the person who wears the jeans from performing the religious function.
  • The striving for the balance between the faith and liberty must be understood in terms of the fact that Hinduism is a way of life not a religion in strict academic discourse.
The empirical aspect of the religion is based upon the certain value which does give significance to primacy of choice.
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