Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of S.C. Gupte and Abhay Ahuja, JJ., permitted the distribution of Ayambil food to be served to the Jain devotees during their 9 days of fasting.

Petition sought a mandamus requiring Respondent-State and local authority to allow petitioners and other 58 Jain Trusts to open their temples for Jain devotees in keeping with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) declared by the State.

The grievance of the petitioners concerned was that a special food called “Ayambil” to be served to their devotees during a period of 9 days fast commencing on 19th April 2021 for a religious penance called “Ayambil Oli Tap”.

Since, as per the State SOP order dated 13-04-2021, it was not permissible to open temples for worship by devotees, counsel for petitioners restricted the petition for catering to community devotees Ayambil food during the period of 9 days penance.

SOP of the State does not permit any dining hall to operate so as to allow in-room dining for any number of people. Hence, direction has been sought that respondents shall allow devotees to take away free of charge pious Ayambil cooked food from Jain Religious Trusts’ premises.

Bench opined that in view of the number of devotees to whom each religious trust may have to cater to, such delivery system may well be operated through volunteers not exceeding 7 in number by each concerned religious trust or through organized delivery chains who are permitted to deliver food under the State SOP.

High Court disposed of the petition in following terms:

  • Respondent-State shall allow the Petitioner trust together with 58 others to make use of the kitchens in their temples for preparation of special cooked pious food, Ayambil, and distribute the same to Jain devotees in accordance with the following manner during the penance days of ‘Ayambil Oli Tap’ commencing from 19 April 2021 and ending on 27 April 2021;
  • Each of the Petitioners and the trusts shall organize delivery of such cooked food through teams of volunteers not exceeding 7 persons for each trust or through professional distribution service agencies.
  • In preparing the food and executing its delivery, the trusts and their agents shall abide by the guidelines issued by the State
  • Name and particulars of the volunteers/delivery agents to be communicated to the jurisdictional police stations/authorities concerned
  • Under no circumstances, devotees shall be allowed to enter the temple premises for taking away pious Ayambil food allowed by this order

[Shree Trustees Atma Kamal v. State of Maharashtra, WP (L) No. 10154 of 2021, decided on 16-04-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

Mr. P.B. Shah a/w Ms. Gunjan Shah i/b Kayval P. Shah for the Petitioners.

Ms. Jyoti Chavan, AGP for Respondent Nos.1 and 2-State.

Ms. Rupali Adhate for Respondent No.3-MCGM.

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