The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the status quo to stand in the Bengaluru Idgah maidan case and said Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations would not take place at the venue.
Earlier in the day, Attorney General Tushar Mehta had informed the Supreme Court that the Karnataka government had allowed the Bengaluru Idgah land to be used in connection with Ganesh Utsav for two days, Wednesday and Thursday.
The high court made the order while hearing a guilty plea against the Karnataka High Court order in the matter.
A two-judge bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia had referred the matter to a three-judge bench saying “there is a difference of opinion between the justices”. The new court is composed of Justices Indira Banerjee, A S Oka and MM Sundresh.
“I listened to the parties quite carefully. Neither the hearing could conclude nor could any consensus be reached among the bench. That the matter be listed before the CJI”, said the bench of two judges.
The high court was hearing an appeal by the Karnataka Waqf Board challenging the High Court order.
On August 26, a division of the Karnataka High Court allowed the state government to consider and pass appropriate orders on applications received by the Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru (Urban) seeking the use of Idgah Maidan in Chamarajpet.
On August 25, a single Karnataka High Court tribunal said the land could be used by the government or the BBMP only as a playground and to celebrate Independence Day and Republic Day. The Muslim community can offer prayers on both Eid, he added. A day later, however, a division court modified the appeal order, allowing the government to make a decision on the spot.
Lead attorney Dushyant Dave, who represents one of the petitioners, said the state government wants to change the 200-year status quo.
Chief lawyer Kapil Sibal, who also appeared for the petitioner, said that it is an Idgah land and should not be used for festivals of other religions.
During the hearing, the court noted that for 200 years, no other religious activity took place on the land in question, so why not the status quo?
“For 200 years, what was not carried out, so be it,” said the bench.
The high court was informed that “the Karnataka government has allowed Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at Idgah maidan in Bangalore for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.”
The state Waqf board had approached the High Court against plans to allow Ganesh Chathurthi festivities at the site. The Waqf’s lawyer and chief advocate, Kapil Sibal, has requested an urgent hearing on the matter, telling a court headed by Chief Justice of India U U Lalit that “unnecessary tensions will be created”; if the matter is not addressed immediately. The land, Sibal said, has been used by Muslims for decades.
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