Supreme Court Tuesday halts the move of the Karnataka BJP government to allow Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in Idgah maidan in Bangalore, a Waqf site.
This ended a deadlock just in time — the Hindu festival is tomorrow and the day after — as the Basavaraj Bommai government was insisting on giving permissions to set up pandals.
The top court ordered that the status quo as of today be maintained by both the Waqf Board and the Karnataka government. The apex court also directed that issues be raised before the High Court.
The High Court had earlier said the government could issue permissions, but the waqf board went to the Supreme Court to argue that such religious festivals have not been held at the place “for 200 years”.
The court’s three-judge bench issued an interim order for “status quo as of today”, meaning the ground will not be used for the festival.
The board’s lawyer, Dushyant Dave, said to the top court: “Don’t give an impression to religious minorities that their rights can be trampled upon like this.”
“No religious event from any other community has been held in this property… It has been declared as Waqf Property as per the law. Suddenly in 2022, they say that it’s disputed land, and they want to hold Ganesh Chaturthi festival here,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state’s lawyer asked for “a government-managed temple” to be allowed for two days, and “no permanent structure will be built”.
At this, Dave remarked, “The then CM of UP also gave an assurance, in the Babri Masjid case. You know what happened there.”
Dave also said, “I wonder if there’s any temple in this country where minority community will be allowed to enter for prayers.”
Kapil Sibal, also the board’s lawyer, referred to a “suo motu FIR” registered on 9 August on a complaint that said “there is a dispute between Muslim and Hindu community (and) the said land belongs to Revenue Department”. Sibal said it’s “very disturbing” that “some references to Babri Masjid” were made in the complaint.
“Your lordships should stop this. What’s happening here?” he further asked.