After a statement made by Shankaracharya of Dwarkapeeth on worshipping Sai Baba, the Supreme Court on Monday denied intervening in the controversy, clearing it as a subject of faith.
Regarding the controversy sparked by Shankaracharya Swaroopananda Saraswati, the apex court stated that Sai Baba devotees can file a civil suit or criminal case against Shankaracharya if their right to worship has been hampered.
According to reports, Swami Swaroopanand had ran down the followers of Shirdi Sai Baba, saying they ought not to worship the 19th century mystic who was no God, and remove his photographs and idols from temples where he gets the pride of place with Hindu deities.
The ruling came a month after a PIL was submitted before the Supreme Court seeking its direction to the Centre to restrain people from making derogatory statements against the saint.
According to reports, Saidham Charitable Trust, which manages various temples in Maharashtra including that of Sai Baba, has submitted that the government be ordered to restrain Swami Swaroopanand and his followers not to make any statements against Sai Baba.
The petitioner reportedly requested the court that Swami Swaroopanand and his followers should not be allowed to remove Sai Baba’s idols from any temples across the country.
The petition stated, "The belief and religious sentiments of lakhs of devotees of the trust and also of crores of devotees of Shri Sai Baba located in India and outside have been irreparably hurt by the libelous, slanderous, defamatory, insulting and abusive language and words used by Shri Shankaracharyaji and his followers."
According to reports, the petition also said, despite such apparent abusive language used by Swami Swaroopananda, in order to protect and respect the sentiments of lakhs of devotees of Shri Sai Baba, the Centre or the state government have not taken any stern action.