Bababudangiri row: SC asks state to respond to plea

The Supreme Court. DH file photo

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Karnataka government to clarify its stand on a plea by Syed Ghouse Mohiyuddin Shakhadri for contempt action against the senior officers for restricting his role to the religious rituals and taking away management and administration of cave shrine of Shri Guru Dattatreya Bababudan Swamy dargah in Chikkamagaluru.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta quizzed senior advocate Basava Prabhu S Patil, representing the state government, on the application filed by advocate Neela Gokhale on behalf of the applicant.

The court gave the state government time till Monday, July 22, to respond to the government order issued on June 11, last year, which stated, “the jurisdiction of power/duties of Shakhadri will be restricted only to religious rites and rituals. Besides, the financial activities and administration of the institution will be under the control of the department of religious endowments.”

The court also asked the counsel to respond to another condition which stated, “suppose Shakhadri who becomes as 'Sajjada Nasheen', if not execute his duty in the temple properly and correctly, if he neglected the same or misappropriated the income and property of the institution, or if he failed to maintain the administration, then the charitable trust or the department of Hindu religious institutions and charitable endowment is being the competent authority to take legal action against him.”

The court had last year issued a notice to the Karnataka's Chief Secretary and others in the contempt petition. In his plea, Shakhadri contended despite the undertaking given to the top court, the state government had on June 11 issued an order “deviating substantially” from the assurance.

The ‘dargah’ at Chikkamagaluru is visited and venerated by thousands of Hindus and Muslims alike but there have been demands for “liberation” of the shrine on the ground that it was a temple of Lord Dattatreya.

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