In an order passed on Friday (December 17), the Supreme Court said that non-Hindus can not be excluded from the auction process for shops is the premises of Sri Bramaramamba Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, commonly known as Srisailam temple, at Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna ordered 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”.
In 2015, an Andhra Pradesh government order had barred non-Hindus from participating in the auction process for leasing shops in the temple premises.
The state government order read “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”.
A petition, challenging this government order, was filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Acting on it, the Andhra Pradesh High Court, in September 2019, had dismissed the petition.
The petitioners moved Supreme Court which stayed the Andhra Pradesh High Court order in January 2020.
Petitioner Sayyed Jani had moved Supreme Court with a contempt application 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, submitting the officials were in breach of stay order issued by the Supreme Court last year.
Senior Advocate C S Vaidyanathan argued for the Andhra Pradesh government and the temple management.
In December last year, BJP MLA from Hyderabad, Raja Singh, had alleged that shops in the Srisailam temple and the surrounding areas were being monopolised by the Muslims.