Case Analysis of Sarika Vs. Administrator, Shri Mahakaleshwar Mandir Committee, Ujjain (M.P.) & Ors.

Nov 21, 2020


Since ancient times in Hindu culture, definitions are found in the name of Shiva, Pasupati, Rudra, Ishaan, etc. Undoubtedly, the Vedas are the only original and wellbeing book of Hindu religion; when and where it was created, it is a matter of search. But it can be said that at least 5000 years ago, it was an incomplete existence. Shiva is the instrument of discussion in Veda Mantras, but that discussion is on shapeless god. Somewhere nature's body is also addressed by various names of Shiva, part of Vedic treatises of the Swaithashwar influx, the 'Sweth' sage has discussed it based on the Vedic Mantras in the spiritual form of Shiva.

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingams, shrines which are said to be the most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva. It is located in the ancient city of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. The temple is situated on the side of the holy river K Shipra. The presiding deity, Lord Shiva in the lingam form is believed to be Swayambhu, deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams that are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti.


The SC appointed an Expert Committee consisting of experts of the Archaeological Survey of India and Geological Survey of India. This was concerning the prevention of erosion of Shivalinga in Sri Mahakaleshwar Temple at Ujjain. Subsequently, the expert committee visited the temple and found that 'Jyotirlingam' of Lord Mahakal at temple town  Ujjain is gradually getting eroded.  More than 30 sq. cm scalp of the holy 'lingam' has come out with nearly 7-8 mm thickness from the eastern side along with 3-4 similar circular patches, having 2-2.5 cm diameter and 6.5 mm depth, just above the bigger patch. The entire holy 'lingam' is having a geological scale on the western side. Two vertical carvings have raised concern that the  'lingam' will have enough chances of splitting into three pieces in future.   

The offerings from devotees in the form of Milk, Curd, Ghee, Panchamrut and other offerings in the form of Gulal, Abeer And Kumkum bought from the stores outside the temple were substandard and had a proportional significance in the cause and factors of the depletion.

Dr. Ram S Shrivastava, a known scientist closely observing the holy lingam since 1953 said one of the reasons for erosion could be pouring of chlorinated water nearly 25,000 litres a day besides about 80 'pundits' from 16 Brahmin families massaging the lingam on rotation basis using Bhat Shringar, Bhang Shirngar etc. Milk' and other offerings could be accounted for in tonnes. Almost every visitor touched the holy shrine and often rubbed and pressed it during prayers." Which  have been a cause of depletion,

Legal Provisions-

  • Constitution of India, Article 142-To ensure “complete justice’ between the parties.
  • Constitution of India, Article 25- Freedom of conscience and free profession.
  • Constitution of India, Article 26- Freedom to manage religious affairs subject to public order, morality and health.
  • Constitution of India, Article 49- Protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance.
  • Constitution of India, Article 51A- Fundamental Duties


The Bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra, B.R Gavai and Krishna Murari, heard the present case. To ensure that the lingam is  not eroded further, the Apex Court has directed that:

  1. No devotee should do any rubbing of the Shivalingam.
  2.  The Temple Committee to ensure that the pH value of Bhasma during the Bhasma Aarti is improved and Shivalingam is preserved from further deterioration and to implement the best methodology to prevent further damage to the lingam.
  3. The Temple Committee ensures that the weight of Mund Mala and Serpakarnahas is further reduced to preserve the Shivalingam from mechanical abrasion and to consider whether it is necessary to use them, or there can be a way out to use them without touching the Shivalingam. Possibility of further reducing weight may also be found out to prevent mechanical abrasion.
  4. The rubbing of curd, ghee, honey on the Shivalingam by the devotees is also a cause of erosion, and only pouring of a limited quantity of pure milk is allowed by the Committee. Whereas in the traditional puja to be done on behalf of the temple, all pure materials can be used.
  5. Poojaries, Janeupati, Khutpati, Purohits, and their authorized representatives strictly ensure that no visitor or devotee rub the Shivalingam at any cost. If any devotee does it, accompanying Poojari or Purohit shall be responsible. No rubbing of Shivalingam to be done by anyone except during traditional Puja and Archana performed on behalf of the temple.
  6.  The entire proceedings of Puja and Archana in Garbh Griha to be video recorded 24 hours and be preserved at least for six months. If any violation is found by any Poojari, Purohit, the Temple Committee can take suitable action against them.
  7. As agreed to on behalf of the Temple Committee, no Panchamrita to be poured on Shivalingam by any devotee. It may be used only during traditional Puja and Archana of the Shivlingam.
  8.  The Temple Committee shall provide pure milk from its resources to the visitors and devotees for offering and make arrangements for that and should ensure that no impure or adulterated milk is offered to Shivalingam.

Additionally, the Supreme Court has issued the following directions:

  • The Expert Committee to do a yearly survey and submit a report to the CourtCourt.
  • The Temple Committee shall provide water from Koti Thirth Kund filtered and purified and further maintain the required pH value.
  • The Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee to visit the temple, if necessary, and submit a project report regarding structural stability within six months. A sum of Rs. 41.30 lakh, as required by it, shall be paid by the Central government as early as possible.
  • Ujjain Smart City Ltd., to undertake Mahakaal Rudrasagar Integrated Development Approach (Phase I and Phase II) forthwith and submit a detailed project report and the time frame within six weeks.
  • Details of necessary repairs, maintenance, and improvement to be worked out and carried out forthwith. The Collector to prepare a comprehensive plan for this with the help of the Superintendent Engineer and available Architect.
  • State government to sanction funds immediately. Also, a suitable plan and estimate must be prepared within four weeks, and necessary repair and maintenance work be carried out urgently.
  • Modern additions made to the temple will be removed as per the recommendation of the Expert Committee and the Temple Committee has to file a compliance report for the same by December 15, 2020.
  • The original work in the temple is required to be restored. Restoration work to be done on eyesore painting by December 15, 2020. Temple Committee to ensure in future not to permit or resort to such painting and covering of the original work.
  • The Collector and Superintendent of Police of Ujjain to ensure encroachment within 500 meters. Of the area of the temple, premises are removed.

Ending Remarks:-

Justice Arun Mishra’s conservatism largely influenced his rulings concerning religion. In Sarika v. Administrator, Shri Mahakaleshwar Mandir Committee, Ujjain (M.P.) & Others, he held that the government must maintain the deteriorating 'lingam' at the Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain. Importantly, Justice Mishra, in this judgment, did not refer to Chief Justice Dipak Misra’s earlier judgment on the restoration of religious places which were destroyed in the 2002 Gujarat riots in which he ruled that the state had no right to spend public funds on their restoration. The Bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B.R.Gavai and Krishna Murari had issued fresh directions to preserve the lingam and for its upkeep. The Bench has also directed the Centre to contribute Rs.41.30 lakh for the purpose as early as possible. The CourtCourt is likely to monitor the case further and has sought detailed project reports for repair and maintenance works at the temple. For preservation and maintenance of Chandranageshwar temple, the Bench has directed the submission of a comprehensive plan and its implementation. The Bench expressed its concerns that of late, "unfortunately the performance of necessary rituals is the most neglected aspect in the temples, and new Poojaris do not understand them; the same should not be the state of affairs. There is no scope for commercialization. The various religious rituals and ceremonies are to be performed regularly." This is perhaps the first time that the CourtCourt has found it appropriate to micro-manage the functions and daily rituals of a Hindu temple.