Karnataka HC Quashes 2008 Govt Order That Handed Over Gokarna Temple Management To Ramachandrapura Mutt [Read Judgment]

Karnataka HC Quashes 2008 Govt Order That Handed Over Gokarna Temple Management To Ramachandrapura Mutt [Read Judgment]

‘The action of the State Government is tainted as it is not for a bona fide purpose, but to confer a benefit on  the mutt.’

The Karnataka High Court has quashed the decision taken by the state government in the year 2008 to hand over Gokarna Temple to Ramachandrapura Mutt holding that the same was not for a bona fide purpose but to confer a benefit on the mutt.

Several public interest litigations were filed challenging the 2008 government order under which Gokarna Mahabaleshwara Temple along with its allied temples was deleted from the list of notified temples under the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997 and was handed over to Ramachandrapura Mutt.

In a 254-page judgment, the bench of Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Aravind Kumar concluded that the state government did not have the power or competence to exclude or delete Gokarna Temple from the List of Notified Institutions. It further held that the state government could not have deleted Gokarna Temple from the List of Notified Institutions by placing reliance on Section 21 of the General Clauses Act nor by exercising its parens patriae powers.

The bench, taking note of the file notings put up for the signature of the then Chief Minister, which stated to the effect that the temple was attached to the mutt, said: “Insertion of the same clearly reveals that it was sought to be asserted by the State Government that the Temple was attached to the Mutt even in the absence of the same having been ever established before a competent Court of law as it is a disputed fact,” the bench said.

It also rejected the contentions of senior counsel appearing for the mutt and said: “ Even if for a moment this Court is to accept the submissions of the learned senior counsel for the respondents that, there have been many reforms and improvements introduced in Gokarna Temple in the last decade, which is controverted by petitioners' counsel, the same would not justify the issuance of the impugned Government Order dated 12/08/2008, which is inherently vitiated, per se illegal and beyond the competence of the State Government. This Court cannot be blind to the fact that it has held that the State Government has acted illegally and has handed over Gokarna Temple to a private Mutt and therefore, has quashed the said order.”

The court then constituted an "overseeing committee" under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner, Uttara Kannada district, to ensure that the traditions of the temple are maintained, amenities and facilities are provided to the devotees and the upadivantas/archaks are accredited. Former Supreme Court judge Justice BN Srikrishna has been requested by the court to be the advisor of the said committee.

Read the Judgment Here