No priest can bar devotees belonging to the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe sections from performing worship at a temple, the Uttarakhand High Court held today.
The court also observed that a person from any caste may become a priest if qualified for the job.
The court of Justice Rajiv Sharma issued the order while hearing a petition on the rights of people belonging to SC/ST categories to visit temples and perform religious activities.
The court posted the matter for next hearing on July 18 and directed the Garhwal Commissioner to be present during the hearing.
It was said in the petition that "upper-caste" priests in Haridwar discriminated against "lower-caste" devotees and refused to perform religious ceremonies on their behalf.
The court directed priests not to refuse performing of religious ceremonies on behalf of devotees belonging to "lower-castes" in any of the temples.
All persons, irrespective of caste, are permitted to enter any temple throughout the state without discrimination, the court said. Further, any properly trained and qualified person can be appointed as 'Pujari' irrespective of his caste, the court added in the order.