Supreme Court tells Karnataka govt to appoint committee within 3 days to manage Murugha Mutt

A bench of justices directed the government to ensure neither H Ekanthaia nor Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru has anything to do with management of the institution in question.
Last Updated 27 February 2024, 16:14 IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday told the Karnataka government to appoint a committee to manage Murugha Mutt and its institutions within three days if it has not been done so far.

A bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Prashant Kumar Mishra directed the state government to ensure neither H Ekanthaia nor Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru has anything to do with the management of the Mutt/institution in question.

The court noted Karnataka government counsel although, initially made a statement that mutt and institution in question is being supervised by a committee constituted by the State under the Chairmanship of a District Judge, but later on he submitted that he will need time to confirm the said instructions and place the same on record by way of counter affidavit.

He sought two weeks’ time for the purpose which was granted by the court.

The bench, however, clarified the counter affidavit will have to be "very clear, specific, discreet and no vagueness on any aspect".

Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra for Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru sought two weeks time to file additional documents in the matter.

Advocate Aparna Bhat for Rajappa sought a direction to cancel the bail to the accused pontiff.

Senior advocate, P B Suresh, along with advocates Sughosh Subramanyam, and Chaitanya appearing for Ekanthaiah submitted that the judgement of the Karnataka High Court holding that Section 8(2) of the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988, is not attracted to the pontiff is wholly unsustainable.

They further contented that the provision gets attracted once the charge sheet is filed and consequently there would be a prohibition on the pontiff in managing the affairs of the mutt and the institutions attached to the mutt. 

In October, 2023, the court issued notice to the Karnataka government and others on a plea challenging the HC's order which quashed an decision that restrained Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru from discharging duties as pontiff of SJM Mutt after his arrest in a rape case.

Ekanthaiah challenged validity of the HC's order of May 22, 2023.

The HC had then allowed the pontiff's plea against the trial court's order restraining him from discharging his duties to manage educational institutions under the Mutt during the pendency of trial for alleged sexual exploitation of the girls.

(Published 27 February 2024, 16:14 IST)

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