Bababudangiri: HC asks govt to reconsider decision

Bababudangiri: Karnataka HC asks govt to reconsider decision on religious practices

The high-level committee had submitted its report in 2017, recommending continuation of religious practices prevailing as of 1947

Cave shrine of Bababudangiri in Chikkamagaluru district. Credit: DH File Photo

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to reconsider its decision on religious practices in the controversial cave shrine of Bababudangiri in Chikkamagaluru district.

The court quashed the March 19, 2018, order of the government permitting only a Mujawar, appointed by Shah Khadri, to enter the sanctum of the cave and to distribute 'teertha' to both Hindus and Muslims.

The then government had accepted the report submitted by the high-level committee, headed by retired judge of the high court Justice H N Nagamohan Das.

Justice P S Dinesh Kumar directed the government to reconsider the matter afresh in accordance with law without reference to the report of the committee.

The court said that directing only a Mujawar to perform the rituals violates the constitutional rights of both Hindus and Muslims.

Shri Guru Dattatreya Peetha Samvardhana Samithi had challenged the 2018 government order and also sought directions to implement the second report of the Endowment Commissioner dated March 10, 2010.

The high-level committee had submitted its report in 2017, recommending continuation of religious practices prevailing as of 1947, which is based on the first report of the Endowment Commissioner in 1989. This report had been quashed by the high court in a previous litigation.

Senior counsel Ashok Haranahalli, appearing for the petitioners, contended that the high-level committee report is biased as one of the members of the committee, Prof Rahmath Tarikere, had deposed before the Endowment Commissioner, who submitted the report in 2010.

“By the impugned order, firstly, the State have infringed upon the right of Hindu Community to have the pooja and archana done in the manner as per their faith. Secondly, State have imposed upon the Mujawar to perform 'paduka pooja' and to light 'nanda deepa' contrary to his faith. Both these acts amount to flagrant violation of rights of both communities guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution of India,” the court said.

The court referred to the deposition of one M N Bhasha before the Endowment Commissioner.

Bhasha, who was the Mujawar between 1969 and 1975, said that Hindus were allowed to worship the 'padukas' through Brahmin or Lingayat priests as per their custom.

The court cited the Apex Court order on the Ram Janmabhoomi temple and said that faith is a matter for the individual believer. Once the court has intrinsic material to accept that the faith or belief is genuine, it must defer to the belief of the worshipper, the high court said. 

Civil court decree

The civil court had decreed Shri Guru Dattatreya Swami Peetha as a religious institution being a holy place of worship belonging to both the Hindus and Mohammadans and not as a Wakf property. This judgment and decree in 1980 has been confirmed by the High Court and the Apex Court. 

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