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Sastri Yagnapurushadji And Others V Muldas Brudardas Vaishya and Anr

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This case of 1966 was concerned with two important aspects. The Hindu religion and Untouchability were two aspects that form the crux of this case.


The case required to describe that who are Hindus which is the most difficult task because of the fact that unlike other religions in the world, Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship anyone God;  it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow anyone set of religious rites or performances.

It may be described broadly as a way of life and nothing more.

The court referred to different encyclopedias and the wording of various also referred to the history of Hindus and the practices and the various philosophies followed by them. 

The court put emphasis on the 4000 years old history of Vedas and other manuscripts of examined and compared the principles of Hinduism and the other sect called Swami Narayana who claimed to be non-Hindus.


Another point of discussion was the discrimination against the Harijans from the past times. The Harijans were obstructed from entering sacred places like temples and worship idols. In this case, also the injunction was demanded to obstruct Harijans from entering the temples of a particular sect.

A brief resume of legislature history on this topic was taken into consideration for appreciating the deliberate efforts of the legislature to meet the challenge of untouchability and for addressing the issue present in this case.

The legislature worked for the upliftment of Harijans and eradicating untouchability from society. 

The court put emphasis on the previous acts and cases where the Harijans are allowed to enter places of worship. The practice of untouchability has been prevalent in India from ancient times because of different religions, customs, and practices followed by different individuals and several cases come across the courts on this becomes the duty of the courts to provide justice to the suffered by taking into consideration the facts and circumstances.

This case leads to the basis of deciding many future cases describing Hindu religion and the concept of Hindu religious institutions.


  • The appellants were the followers of the Swaminarayan sect and were known as satsangis.
  • They demanded the declaration that their temples did not come under the ambit of the relevant provisions of the Bombay Harijan temple entry act 1947  amended because the religion of the Swaminarayan sect was different and distinct from the Hindu religion.
  • They also demanded an injunction to prevent non-satsangi Harijans from entering and worshipping in the Swaminarayan temples.
  • Indirectly they wanted to obstruct Harijans from entering their temples by declaring themselves separate from Hindu religion and their temples outside the ambit of Bombay Hindu Places of Public Worship (Entry- Authorisation) Act, 1956 and the former act- Bombay Harijan temple entry act 1947.


Civil court

The appellants first instituted the suit in the court of the joint civil judge, senior division, Ahmedabad. The trial court passed a decree in favor of the appellants giving them declarations and injunctions as claimed by them. This judgment was pronounced on the 24th of September, 1951.  

High court

The respondents appealed in the high court on 8th March 1957. On 25th March 1957, the high court sent back the case to the trial court for recording a finding on the issue ” whether the Swaminarayan temple at Ahmedabad and the temples subordinate thereto are Hindu religious institutions within the meaning of Art. 25 (2) (b) of the Constitution”

The high court dismissed the suit and rejected the declaration and injunctions demanded by the appellants.

Supreme court 

The present appeal has been brought to the supreme court by the certificate issued by the high court. In the end, the supreme court also dismissed the appeal.


The two main issues, in this case, were as follows:

  • Whether the Swaminarayan sect known as the satsangis were different and distinct from the Hindu religion?
  • Whether Harijans can be denied entry into the temple of the Swaminarayan sect if their temples do not come under the ambit of Bombay Hindu Places of Public Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956.


Article 26(b) of the constitution states that

Freedom to manage religious affairs Subject to public order, morality, and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right

(b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;

Section 3 of Bombay Hindu Places of Public Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956.

“Notwithstanding anything contained in the terms of any instruments of trust, the terms of dedication, the terms of a sanad or a decree or order of a competent court or any custom, usage or law, for the time, being in force to the contrary every temple shall be open to Harijans for worship in the same manner and to the same extent as to any member of the Hindu community or any section thereof and the Harijans shall be entitled to bathe in, or use the waters of any sacred tank, well, spring or watercourse in the same manner and to the same extent as any member of the Hindu community or any section thereof.”

Section 2(b) of Bombay Harijan temple entry act defines

 “Worship” as including attendance at a temple for the purpose of darshan’ of a deity or deities installed in or within the precincts thereof.

Article  17 of the Indian constitution.

Article 17 reads out as follows –

Abolition of Untouchability Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden the enforcement of any disability arising out of Untouchability shall be an offense punishable in accordance with the law.

Section 2 of Hindu marriage act, 1955

This Act applies-

(a) to any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj,

(b) to any person who is a Buddhist, Jaina, or Sikh by religion, and

(c) to any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jew by religion unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu Law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed.


  • The minor contention raised by the appellants was that the high court was in error in treating the appeal by the respondent as competent.
  • This issue was raised because the respondent had signed the vakaltnama in favor of the government pleader and it was accepted by the then assistant government pleader. the appeal suffered from infirmity and it should have been dismissed in the first instance.
  • The second contention raised by the appellants was that section 3 of the Bombay Hindu Places of Public Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956 was ultra vires.
  • They argued that section 3 of the said act contravenes the fundamental rights guaranteed to appellants by Article 26(b) of the constitution.
  • Then they further argued that even Satsangi Hindus are not allowed to enter into the innermost sacred part of the temple where the idols are installed. It is only the Poojaris who are authorized to enter the said sacred portion of the temples and do the actual worship of the idols by touching the idols for the purpose of giving a bath to the idols, dressing the idols, offering garlands to the idols, and doing all other ceremonial rites
  • The main contention of the appellants was that the Swami Narayan sect is a religion distinct and separate from the Hindu religion, and consequently, the temples belonging to the said sect do not fall within the ambit of section 3 of the said Act.


  • The court held that the religion of the Swaminarayan sect was not separate and distinct from the Hindu religion. Social justice is the main foundation of a democratic way of life and Harijans cannot be denied to enter and worship into the temples of the swaminaryan sect.
  • The court gave the answer to the contentions raised by the appellants by carefully examining the relevant material.
  • The court said that the first contention of error of the high court in treating the appeal as competent is not justified because if the registry had returned the appeal to assistant government pleader as irregularly presented, the irregularity could have been immediately corrected and the Government Pleader would have signed both the memo of appeal and the Vakalatnama. It is an elementary rule of justice that no party should suffer for the mistake of the court or its Office.
  • On the contention made that section 3 of the said act contravenes the fundamental right provided in 26(b) of the constitution, the court referred to the series of Acts which have been passed by the Bombay Legislature with a view to removing the disabilities from which the Harijans suffered.
  • The court referred to the Bombay Harijans Temple Worship (Removal of Disabilities) Act, Bombay Harijan Temple Entry Act, 1947; Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955.
  • The court also referred to Article 17 of the constitution which prevents untouchability by any means.
  • In all these referred acts, Harijans are allowed to enjoy all the social amenities and rights equivalent to Hindus and others.
  • The court said that Section 3 of the said act contravenes Article 26(b) in no way because it intends to provide social equality among all sections of Hindu.
  • The further court said that the Harijans are given the same right to enter the temple for the worship of the deity as can be claimed by the other Hindus. Section 3 does not intend to change the actual meaning of worship and no one is entitled to enter the innermost sacred part where only authorized pujaris are allowed.
  • Next, comes the main contention whether the Swaminarayan sect falls under the Hindu religion or not?
  • The court referred to the encyclopedia and views of Dr. Radha Krishanan and max muller on Hindu philosophy and the development of Hindu religion.
  • The court also referred to the explanation of Article 25 and various Hindu acts like the Hindu succession act 1956, Hindu marriage act 1955.
  • The court considered the philosophic and theological tenets of Swami Narayan and the characteristics which marked the followers of Swami Narayan who are otherwise known as Satsangis.
  • The life story and principles of Swaminarayan and his devotion towards Lord Krishna were highlighted by the court and based on them it cannot be said that the Swaminarayan sect known as satsangis were different and distinct from the Hindu religion.
  • The court dismissed the appeal.



The case was rightly decided by the Supreme Court because-

  • The teachings and principles of Swaminarayan were not the principles that are not prevalent in the Hindu religion. In fact, some principles are somewhat the same as the beliefs of some sections of Hindus.
  • Swaminaryana’s life story clearly shows that the sect has emerged from the Hindu religion itself and his devotion towards Krishna leaves no doubt about the status of the sect being a part of hind religion.
  • The non-satsangi Harijans cannot be obstructed from worship and entry into temples because it will promote untouchability and this practice is still prevalent in many parts of India.


Hinduism is vast and broad religion that does not profess any one lord. There are many sections and classes of Hindus and this religion is around 4000 years old. All the sections of Hindus have a different opinion about god and their ways to worship and attain salvation are also different. Numbers of cases have come across the judiciary on Hindu religion and judiciary have to carefully examine what is Hinduism and their history and development way back.

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