The Supreme Court on Friday directed that people from other faiths already holding shops in the premises of the Sri Bramaramamba Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple — more commonly known as the Srisailam temple – at Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh not be barred from participating in the auction for shops.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna directed that “none of the tenants/shop holders shall be excluded from participating in the auction or from the grant of leases solely on the ground of their religion”.
The bench was hearing an application that sought contempt action against the Principal Secretary to the Department of Revenue (Endowments) of Andhra Pradesh government, the Commissioner of Endowments, and the Executive Officer of the temple, contending that the officials were in breach of a stay order issued by the SC last year.
In January, 2020, hearing a plea by one Sayyad Jani Basha, the SC had stayed a judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court that had dismissed a petition challenging the constitutional validity of a government order barring non-Hindus from the auction.
The government order, issued in 2015, had said “no person professing other than Hinduism as his religion is entitled to obtain lease or license either to tender-cum-public auction of the shops, malls etc coming under the jurisdiction of A.P Charitable and Hindu Religious Institution and Endowments Act, 1987”.
The petitioner had contended that people of other faiths were already running shops in the properties leased out to them and that the government order violated their right to life.
Hearing the application on Friday, the bench said that pending adjudication of the main appeal, none of the tenants/shop holders shall be excluded from participating in the auction or from the grant of leases solely on the ground of their religion.