SC orders status quo on Gokarna temple

SC orders status quo on Gokarna temple

Mahabaleshwara temple in Gokarna, Uttara Kannada district. DH File Photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered status quo on the management of the ancient Gokarna Mahabaleshwara Temple, known as ‘Dakshina Kashi’.

A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and A M Khanwilkar passed an order, directing maintaining of the status quo as was prevailing on September 7.

On September 7, the top court had refused to stay the Karnataka High Court order that appointed an overseeing committee for managing the Gokarna Mahabaleshwara temple, situated in Uttara Kannada district.

The Mutt, subsequently, filed a contempt petition, contending that the state government authorities had taken over the management of the temple in contravention of the apex court’s order which stated that the interim order passed by the high court would continue.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar along with advocate Joseph Aristotle, representing the Karnataka government, contended that the executive officer had already been appointed in August, after the high court’s order.

The Mutt’s counsel Ejaz Maqbool, however, told DH that the top court had restored the management of temple to the Mutt as the government wrongly interpreted the apex court’s order.

The high court had, on August 10, quashed the B S Yeddyurappa government’s decision of August 12, 2008, to hand over control of the temple to the Mutt.

In its decision, the high court had declared the state government’s order as “illegal and not valid in law,” saying that deleting the temple from the list of notified institutions in the absence of any power and handing it over to the Mutt was “improper exercise of power and arbitrary”.

It had, as an interim measure, directed for setting up of an overseeing committee with Justice B N Srikrishna, former SC judge, as the advisor.

“The interim order passed by the High Court shall remain in force,” the apex court had directed and issued notice to the state government and Sansthana Mahabaleshwara Devaru and others who had filed the writ petition in the high court, challenging the then government’s decision. The apex court has fixed the matter for hearing after four weeks.