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On Gokarna temple dispute, Supreme Court asks Karnataka if it is okay with oversight committee managing shrine?

The bench was hearing the arguments on the issue “whether the Math was attached to the Temple or not?” and has there been any inquiry on this issue.

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Karnataka government whether it would have the “overseeing committee” has the control and management of the Mahabaleshwara temple in Gokarna.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna, Justice V. Ramasubramanian was hearing the matter pertaining to the control and the management of the Gokarna temple.

The bench was hearing the arguments on the issue “whether the Math was attached to the Temple or not?” and has there been any inquiry on this issue.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the petitioners in this matter, has made a suggestion to the court that,

“if there’s an interim thing operating and you have any doubt of inquiry if the Court was to kept it at abeyance, ask the State government to conduct a proper judicial inquiry, how will that not be in the public interest?”

CJI Bobde opposed the argument and said, “We know how these things work, we pass the order for inquiry but it will not be completed in months and not even in a year..”

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Singhvi replied,

“It will, if the lordships give a time. If Supreme Court says they have to do it. Why should lordships be doubtful about the efficacy?”

He further added that the PIL which has been filed in the High Court was filed by the relatives of the respondent Dikshit, therefore according to the hallowed principle laid down by the Supreme Court, the impugned judgment cannot be passed. The PIL cannot be filed on the grounds of Personal Interest, Private Interest and jokingly said paisa vasool Interest.

CJI Bobde joked, “We have also added one more category to it i.e. ‘Philosophical Interest’ which once Dr Subramanian Swamy told us when we asked him, why you have filed the PIL.”

Senior Advocate Ranjit Singh, appearing for the State of Karnataka, submitted,

“The State has taken an Informed decision when it deleted 16,000 other temples from the notified list and not just one temple. That informed decision was based on the inquiry form of tehsildar, deputy tehsildar, advocate general, etc after the consideration of the government.”

CJI Bobde said the advocate general is a part of the state government. The Court was reluctant to rely on the report of the Advocate General.

The bench asked the State of Karnataka,

“What’s your problem as state government with overseeing committee managing the temple as an interim measure, as ordered by HC?”

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Additional Advocate General Nikhil Goyal appearing for the State of Karnataka replied that there is already a provision in Section 24-A read with Section 49 provides for interim arrangement and Overseeing Committee is not in accordance with the provisions of Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997.

At last, the bench said,

“We are not going to decide matter finally today, we are impressed by pendency of other matters.”

The Ramachandrapura Math, which is said have been established in 8th century AD, has now been denied the right to administer the Gokarna Temple which had been attached to it hence it approached the Supreme Court challenging the order of the Karnataka High Court. It has been alleged in the Special Leave Petition by the Math that Gokarna Temple is controlled and administered by it since time immemorial as evidenced by several edicts, historical references and documents.

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