In its effort to balance the temple rights of all parties involved, the Rajasthan High Court prohibited worshippers from painting over the photo sculpture of Swami Ji in the garb of religious sentiments.

The Court held thus while allowing worshippers to continue “Sewa-Pooja”.

The bench of Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand observed, “The defendants cannot be allowed to paint the photo-sculpture of Swami Ji by applying sandal and writing any kind of names etc., in the garb of religious or spiritual sentiments. But, at the same time, the defendants also have an equal right to perform worship and attend the religious functions and activities in the petitioner-Temple. They cannot be restrained from doing “Sewa-Pooja” in the temple....At the same time, the plaintiffs cannot be allowed to restrain the defendants from offering prayers and worshipping in the petitioner-Temple.”

Brief Facts-

The plaintiff, Moorti Mandir Thakurji, represented by its priest, filed a suit for permanent injunction against the defendant Bhanu Prakash Sharma, alleging the destruction of idols and pictures in the temple. A temporary injunction application was also submitted seeking relief until the final disposal of the suit. The Trial Court rejected the application, prompting the plaintiff to appeal to the Appellate Court, which partially allowed the appeal by restraining the defendants from causing further damage or hindrance to worship till the final disposal of the suit.

Aggrieved by the impugned order passed by the Appellate Court, the defendant approached the High Court with the present petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

The Court mentioned the decision of the Supreme Court in Sarika Vs. Administrator, Shri Mahakaleshwar Mandir Committee, Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) and Ors., reported in (2018) 17 SCC 112 where according to the Court SC held, “it is not within the jurisdiction of the Court to dictate or to prescribe or restrain the religious practices and pujas to be performed in temples. They are required to be performed in accordance with the ancient rituals and practices but, at the same time, it has to be ensured that no damage is caused to the idols. Puja has to be performed in such a manner which should be befitting to the deity and not to cause erosion itself of the idols for which so much infrastructure exists. The idols cannot be permitted to be destructed or exploited in a manner they are destroyed.”

“It has been further held that by pouring the adulterated milk, ghee, kumkum, gulal, abir containing chemicals due to adulteration is improper and cannot be permitted to be a part of the rituals. The idols cannot be permitted to be destroyed by chemical reactions of impure materials or by pouring of the dirty water such acts of offerings cannot be allowed and as are done innocently by the people unaware of ill effect on the idol.” the Court stated.

The Court directed the parties to plant 25 trees each of indigenous varieties in the vicinity and campus of the temple premises.

Accordingly, the Court modified the impugned order and disposed of the Writ Petition.

Cause Title: Bhanu Prakash Sharma v. Moorti Mandir Thakurji (Neutral Citation: 2024:RJ-JP:21196)


Appellant: Sr. Adv. M.M. Ranjan and Adv. Rohan Agarwal

Respondent: R.P. Garg

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