SC stay on 'Made Snana' to continue

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered that the stay granted on ritual ‘Made Snana’ performed by people from Malekudiya community in Dakshina Kannada district and elsewhere would continue till the legal validity of the practice is finally decided.

A three-judge bench granted “leave” on a petition filed by the Karnataka government, meaning thereby the matter would now come up for consideration as per the regular list. The apex court had on December 12, 2014, stayed a Karnataka High Court order which allowed ‘Made Snana’. The HC order had come on a petition filed by 'Adivasi Budakattu Hitrarakshana Vedike'.

The court had then admitted the Karnataka government's special leave petition filed by advocate Joseph Aristotle for consideration against the ritual in which devotees rolled over the leftovers under the belief that it would cure skin diseases and solve infertility problems of women. “Untouchability has continued for over 500 hundred years, it does not mean we can continue with it,” the court had then observed.

In a related writ petition filed by P Thalapathi, the Union government had in September 2016 called for a ban on the ritual, also practised in Tamil Nadu, saying it could not be shielded under the right of freedom of religion granted under the Constitution.

In Karnataka, the ritual is followed during the three-day annual celebrations in November-December. In Tamil Nadu, the custom is seen every April as part of the annual Aradhana festival of the Nerur Sadasiva Bharmendrai Temple in Karur district.

In its petition, the Karnataka government sought ban on the custom in its original form saying the right to practice one's religion was subject to certain conditions. It also claimed the practice, in its original form, also called 'Pankti Bheda' was clearly against the public order, morality and health.

The state government also claimed that allowing the community to perform the rituals as per their religious belief during 'Shasti' festival could lead to untoward incidents including law and order problems.

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