Priests cannot refuse to perform rituals for those from lower castes, rules Uttarakhand High Court

The bench said any person who is properly trained and qualified, irrespective of caste, can serve as a priest in temples.

Upper-caste priests must not refuse to perform rituals on behalf of people from lower castes, the Uttarakhand High Court said last month. The order, issued on June 15, was released on Thursday, The Times of India reported.

The court also said any person who is properly trained and qualified, irrespective of caste, can serve as a priest in temples.

The court was hearing a petition filed by people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The plea, filed in 2016, was related to the shifting of a staircase leading to Sant Ravidas temple in Haridwar. They wanted the staircase removed, but upper-caste residents rejected the demand, The Indian Express reported. The plea also alleged that high-caste priests often refused to accept alms by those from lower castes, Live Law reported.

“The high-caste priests throughout the state of Uttarakhand shall not refuse to perform religious ceremonies, puja, or rituals on behalf of the members belonging to lower castes in all the religious places and temples,” the division bench of Justices Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh said.

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