Bengaluru: The State government on Monday justified introducing in the just-concluded Belagavi session a bill that provides for taking over Hindu religious mutts in the event of mismanagement of affairs.
Speaking to reporters here, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said that with the bill, the government aimed to support its stand in a Special Leave Petition (SLP) it filed in the Supreme Court pertaining to the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act,1997. The government tabled the amendment bill on Saturday.
The law was enforced in 2003. The government filed the SLP in 2007 after the High Court of Karnataka declared the Act “ultra vires” on a writ appeal filed by a temple in Dakshina Kannada district. “We had submitted before the Supreme Court that the government intends to bring certain amendments to enforce the rule of law with respect to regulation of mutts. Accordingly, to substantiate our stand, we decided to introduce this amendment,” he said.
He added that the bill had only been tabled and would be subject to the Supreme Court verdict in the case. The case has been posted to January 13 for final hearing. Another reason for initiating this bill, the minister went on, is the specific dispute in the Sosale and Sringeri mutts.
There is still no law to safeguard the properties of the common man in these mutts, he said. “People asked us why we were not interfering in these matters. Properties worth crores are at the risk of being lost in the succession dispute.
Accordingly, we decided to regulate the affairs of mutts if there is a dispute over successors. While we do not want to interfere in the matters of the mutts, our job will be to safeguard the interests of the people and the disciples of these institutions. We will act only if there is a complaint from the followers or disciples, or if the Mathadipathi himself asks us to intervene,” he clarified.
When asked why the government was not bringing similar laws for trusts and boards of the minority communities, Jayachandra evaded the question, saying, “You need to ask the ministers concerned.”
The law minister claimed that the present government had tabled the bill in order to honour the assurances given by the previous dispensation to the Supreme Court. “Had the previous government not made an assurance to bring certain amendments to the Act, we would not be bringing this bill,” he said.
He quoted a report submitted to the government by a committee headed by Justice Rama Jois, which specifically asked the State to prepare a law to regulate functioning of mutts. “We’ve brought in this bill to ensure there is no lawlessness.”
BJP flays move to take over mutts
Bengaluru: The BJP on Monday hit out at the government’s move to take over mutts in case of their mismanagement and warned to launch a Statewide campaign against it.
Addressing reporters, BJP State general secretary C T Ravi charged the government with conspiring to usurp properties of mutts. The government tabled the bill in this regard on the last day of the session, despite stiff resistance from the principal opposition party. This clearly shows the hidden agenda of the Congress government to target Hindu religious institutions, he said.
He said the amendment bill is aimed at keeping people away from mutts. Besides, the withdrawal of the anti-cow slaughter bills during the legislature session has hurt the sentiments of Hindus. Heads of all mutts and religious institutions should protest against the government, he added.
Ravi criticised the government for stopping a padayatra taken out by BJP Yuva Morcha members from Chikkaballapur to Bengaluru, seeking a permanent solution to the drinking water problem in dry areas of south interior Karnataka.