The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition by an NGO seeking direction to the central government to step in to prevent Sri Sai Baba idols from being removed from temples as urged by Dwarka Peeth Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati.
A bench headed by Justice T.S. Thakur said it was a matter of faith and could not be judicially managed. The court, while declining to interfere in the matter, also reminded the petitioner Saidham Charitable Trust that the law and order was a state subject.
Making it clear that it would not entertain the NGO’s plea, the court allowed it to withdraw the petition, saying that it is dismissed as withdrawn. It also said that petitioner trust could avail the legal remedies available to it.
Appearing for the trust, senior counsel C.A. Sundaram told the court the call to remove Sai Baba’s idols was akin to a ‘fatwa’.
The court said that anyone who interferes with the law will have to face its consequences, including those inciting crime.
“Certainly law will help you,” it observed as it asked the trust to explore the legal remedies available to it.
Mumbai-based Saidham Charitable Trust Sep 17 moved the apex court seeking direction to the central and Maharashtra governments to ensure that the idols of Sri Sai Baba were not illegally removed from any temple across the country and his devotees were not interfered, obstructed or hindered from carrying out their worship.
Of the 11 prayers made by the trust, one sought to restrain the media from telecasting, broadcasting and publishing anything that is insulting or defamatory to Sai Baba of Shirdi and hurts the sentiments of his devotees.
It sought action against all those who are running a campaign defamatory to Sai Baba, and sought direction for the restoration of his idols from wherever these have been removed.