PIL against making minor Shiroor Mutt seer dismissed

PIL against anointment of minor as Shiroor Mutt seer dismissed

The petition was filed by P Lathavya Acharya and others contending that forcing a minor to do material abandonment violates the right to life

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The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday dismissed the PIL challenging the appointment of a minor as peetadhipathi/seer of Shri Shiroor Mutt, one of the eight mutts of Udupi Shri Krishna
Mutt.

A division bench, headed by Acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, said that there was no legal/constitutional bar on giving sanyasa deeksha to a person below 18 years of
age.

The petition was filed by P Lathavya Acharya and others contending that forcing a minor to do material abandonment violates the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The petition had questioned sanyasa deeksha given to 16-year-old Anirudha Saralathaya (now named as Vedavardhana Theertha) as the seer of Shri Shiroor Mutt. The petitioner, by way of an amendment to the petition, had also prayed for declaration that imposition of sanyasa (renunciation) on a minor amounts to violation of Articles 39 (e) and (f) of the Constitution.

The bench said that the petitioner has not been able to point out violation of any statutory provisions or any violation of constitutional rights. The court also noted that the religious practice has been going on since last 800 years and the appointment of pontiff is a practice which is in existence for the last 800 years indicative of the philosophy and teaching of Sri Madhvacharya, the founder of Dvaita philosophy and Ashta Mutts in Udupi.

In his submissions, senior advocate S S Naganand, who was appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter, had stated that there is no statutory, much less constitutional, bar on a person who is less than 18 years of age being initiated into Sanyasa and it is not a pernicious practice. He had also submitted that as per the practice of dvandva mutt or paired mutt system, the head of the paired mutt has the authority to appoint the successor in the event the head of the other paired mutt passes away without nominating his successor.

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