In a late-night court proceeding, the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday declined to interfere with the decision of the Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC) to permit celebration of Ganesha festival at Idgah Maidan, Hubballi.
Justice Ashok S. Kinagi passed the interim order at 11.30 p.m. on a petition filed by Anjuman-E-Islam, Hubballi, by declining to accept the petitioner’s plea to restrain the HDMC from allowing installation of Ganesha idol at the maidan. The petitioner had questioned the decision taken by the House panel of the HDMC to allow Ganesha festival for three days from August 31.
The court prima facie noted that the issue of Hubballi Idgah Maidan was different from from issue of Idgah Maidan of Chamarajpet in Bengaluru. While there was a dispute over the title with regard to Chamarajpet maidan, the HDMC was the absolute owner of Hubballi Idgah Maidan as the title was confirmed by the civil courts in Hubballi and the High Court between 1972 and 1992, and these orders were finally confirmed by the apex court in 2010, the court noticed.
The petitioner on Monday (August 29) had moved the High Court seeking urgent hearing of its petition questioning the legality of the decision taken by a House panel of the HDMC.
Though it was holiday for the High Court from August 29 to August 31 in view of Gowri-Ganesha festival, the court convened a special sitting at 11 a.m. on Tuesday to hear the petition.
When the petition was taken up for hearing at 11 a.m., Justice Kinagi adjourned further hearing till 3.30 p.m. as it was informed by the advocates of the petitioner as well as the HDMC that a similar issue was being considered by the Supreme Court on Tuesday as the Karnataka State Board for Auqaf had filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the apex court in the Chamarajpet Idgah Maidan case.
Advocates for the petitioner and the HDMC said that the petition could be considered after the board’s SLP was examined by the apex court, which was expected to decide the matter later in the day.
In the SLP the board had questioned August 26 interim order of the High Court’s Division Bench permitting the State government to consider pleas to hold religious and cultural activities at the Chamarajpet Idgah Maidan
Hearing at 4 p.m
When the petition was taken up for hearing again at 4 p.m. by the High Court, it was informed that the apex court was yet examine the SLP. However, the advocate for the petitioner conceded that an interim order may be passed in terms of the order passed by the Division Bench in the Chamarajpet Idgah Maidan case while seeking a liberty to move the High Court in case the apex court passes any order on the SLP.
Following these submissions, Justice Kinagi passed an interim order around 5 p.m. and permitted the HDMC Commissioner to consider the applications received for installation of Ganesha idol, religious and cultural activities. However, the court had reserved the liberty to the petitioner to knock the doors of the High Court again in case the Supreme Court passed any order in the Chamarajpet Idgah Maidan case.
Later, a three-judge Bench of the apex court passed its order around 6.15 p.m. on the Chamarajpet Idgah Maidan issue and this order made the petitioner to request the High Court re-look at the interim order passed around 5 p.m.
Hearing at 10 p.m.
Following this request, the High Court listed the petition for hearing at 10 p.m. During the hearing Additional Advocate-General Dhyan Chinnappa, appearing for the HDMC, said that issues in Hubballi and Chamarajpet were different in facts as there was no dispute over ownership in the Hubballi maidan unlike in the Chamarajpet case. Mr. Chinnappa also said that HDMC Commissioner had already permitted an organisation to celebrate Ganesha festival at the maidan by imposing several conditions acting on the basis of the court earlier interim order passed around 5 p.m
However, it was contended on behalf of the petitioner that permission granted for Ganesha festival violated the Places of Worship Act, 1991.