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SC refuses to interfere in Sai Baba vs Shankaracharya controversy

The Supreme Court dismisses petition seeking direction to the central government to step in to prevent the removal of Sri Sai Baba idols from temples as urged by Dwarka Peeth Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today refused to intervene on a controversy arising out of a statement by the Shankaracharya of Dwarkapeeth regarding worshiping Sai Baba leading to derogatory statements made against the saint and removal of his idol from some temples.

A bench headed by Justice T S Thakur observed that such issues cannot be decided by it in PIL and said that devotees can file civil suit or criminal case against Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati and his followers if they feel their right to worship is hampered or blasphemous statements are made against the saint.

"If there is a breach of law or he incites violence or blasphemous statements are made by them then you seek redressal by filing civil suites or criminal case," the bench said. It said that the court cannot pass any gag order as everyone has a right to own belief and "it is not a matter to be manageable judicially".

The bench asked the devotees, who filed the PIL, to approach proper forum in case of a problem created against them. The court was hearing a petition filed by Saidham Charitable Trust, which manages various temples in Maharashtra including that of Sai Baba, seeking its direction to the Centre to restrain people from making derogatory statements against the saint.

The petitioner submitted that the government be ordered to restrain Shankaracharya and his followers not to make any statements against Sai Baba. It also pleaded that he and his followers be not allowed to remove Sai Baba's idols from any temple across the country.

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