Bill on regulating mutts likely to be withdrawn soon

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Bengaluru: Faced with severe criticism from religious institutions and mutts, the State Cabinet on Tuesday is understood to have decided to withdraw a controversial amendment bill that proposed taking over mismanaged mutts in the State.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who chaired the meeting, is learnt to have directed Law Minister T B Jayachandra to withdraw the bill in the next session of the legislature as almost all ministers are opposed the move to introduce the bill – the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill, 2014.

The chief minister is learnt to have advised the law minister that the move to regulate mutts by bringing in an amendment to the Act was taken by the then government in 2007 and that it will not be binding on the present government. The law minister has been asked to inform this to the Supreme Court, which is hearing a case in this regard.

Sources said that the Cabinet asked the law minister to take necessary damage control measures like holding meetings with heads of religious institutions and mutts and apprising them of the factual position. Heads of religious institutions and the Opposition BJP had come down heavily on the government against the move to bring in an amendment and threatened to launch an agitation against it. The government had tabled the amendment bill in the Assembly on the last day of the winter session of the legislature in Belagavi recently.

Later speaking to mediapersons, Jayachandra admitted that there was stiff opposition to the bill from the ministers in the Cabinet meeting and that he will consult legal experts in this regard, indicating that the Bill will be withdrawn.

“There is no need for any agitation in this regard. Steps will be taken to protect the interests of mutts and religious institutions,” he said.

He said he voluntarily raised the issue in the Cabinet meeting and apprised it about the circumstance for tabling the Bill.

“The apex court, while hearing a civil appeal, had on November 13, 2014, given six weeks time to the government to bring in an amendment to the Act to regulate mutts. The direction was given based on a submission by the then government in 2007 that the amendment will be brought in. Our government has no intention to interfere in the functioning of mutts,” he added.

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