A petition has been filed in Allahabad High Court challenging the 'Sugam Darshan' system, which was launched in 2018 and allows anyone to become a 'VIP' (Very Important Person) on amount of payment for the purpose of ‘darshan' in the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Banaras, Uttar Pradesh.
It states that, "this ‘queue-less’, ‘hassle-free’ Darshan system is infact nothing but a way of collecting money."
The petitioner, Gajendra Singh Yadav, a D.Phil. (Law) student at Allahabad University, states that the 'Sugam Darshan' system is not intended for Divyangs or disabled people.
He has claimed that if the Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple trust/board was willing to provide convenience for physically disabled people, there would have been no need for payment.
He further contended that this service should be provided for free to disabled people because similar facilities are provided to disabled people/divyangs in all government or public buildings, offices, and institutions, etc.
According to the petition, 'Sugam Darshan' costs Rs. 300.00, Rudrabhishek 'Arti' costs Rs. 450-57100, Bhog costs Rs. 180-700, Rs. 3000, Shringari costs Rs. 5000, and Lakhbilwarchana costs Rs. 8660 as stated on the official website portal of Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple trust.
The petitioner claims that, while the system of various types of darshans has been in place at Kashi Vishwanath Temple for many years, he is drawing the court's attention to a new system of Darshan that allows anyone to become a 'VIP' (Very Important Person) for a fee and discriminates against similarly situated people with less money.
As a result, he noted that, according to the temple website, if this 'Sugam Darshan' system was created for the ease and convenience of pilgrims who come for Darshan, then creating a 'Pay Darshan' option cannot be allowed.
The petitioner has also questioned the majority of the time the barricade around the 'Shiv Linga' in the temple. He claims that the barricade is opened on occasion, but only for a short period of time, and that the majority of the time it remains intact.
According to the petitioner, because of the barricade, devotees are forced to pour water (jal), milk (doodh), and other offerings only from above the Shiv Linga without touching it. He also claims that 'Sparsh Darshan' is only available to a select few.
The petitioner has claimed that in the worship or offering of 'Lord Shiv,' 'Sparsh Darshan' is considered to be very important and also falls under the category of 'Right to Religion' under Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution.
The petitioner has also complained about the humiliation endured by devotees. He claims that those in charge of the temple's administration push devotees out shortly after entering the 'Garbha Griha' (Sanctum Santorum).
The petitioner has further sought to draw the court's attention to the current system in which no milk or sweets are permitted from outside the temple for security reasons, and point out that shops within the temple's boundaries sell milk and sweets at significantly higher prices, such as milk worth Rs. 28 for Rs. 50-60 and sweets at Rs. 400 per kg rather than the outside rate of Rs. 280 per kg.
Alleging that known persons or relatives of persons who are members of the above Trust or Temple are given preferential treatment by granting 'darshan' out of turn to them, the petitioner further stated that this is discrimination against other devotees.
CASE – Gajendra Singh Yadav v. State of UP and Ors.