Court Upholds Dalit Right to Enter Temple

December 7, 2006

Source: Khaleej Times

CUTTACK — Dalits in Orissa are celebrating after a court ruled that all Hindus irrespective of caste have the right to enter any temple.

A division bench of the Orissa High Court made the observation on Tuesday after hearing a public interest litigation filed by Akhya Kumar Mallik, a Dalit rights activist, following a ‘ban’ on Dalit entry into an 18th century temple in Kendrapada district.

The upper caste community had barred Dalits from entering the shrine dedicated to Lord Jagannath in Keradagarh village. Dalits have made several unsuccessful attempts to gain entry to the temple.

Trouble erupted last month when a rights group, Ambedkar-Lohia Vichar Manch, announced that Dalits would forcibly enter the temple.

Mallik, an advocate, filed his petition early in November seeking protection for Dalits wanting to pray at the temple.