No Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at Bengaluru's Eidgah Maidan: Supreme Court
A Supreme Court bench on Tuesday ordered that no Ganesh Chaturthi festivities can be held at the Eidgah Maidan in Bengaluru's Chamarajpet. The three-judge bench was hearing a plea filed by the Karnataka Waqf Board that challenged an order by the Karnataka High Court. The top court has asked both parties to maintain the status quo. Here's all about the development.
Why does this story matter?
- On Friday (August 26), the Karnataka HC ruled the Eidgah Maidan can be used for a variety of religious and cultural festivities, allowing the state government to take a decision.
- The Karnataka government, based on several requests it reportedly received, granted permission for Ganesh Chaturthi festivities at the disputed ground.
- Notably, Karnataka has been witnessing increased communal tensions and targeted attacks since last year.
Ganesh pooja can be held elsewhere, says SC
The SC bench has stated Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations—much like in the last 200 years—cannot be held at the Eidgah Maidan in Chamarajpet. Earlier, the ground was going to be used for Ganesh Ustav on Wednesday and Thursday. The bench, comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, AS Oka, and MM Sundresh, directed the Ganesh pooja to be held elsewhere, effectively putting the Karnataka government's order in abeyance.
Urgent hearing after 'difference of opinion'
The matter reached the three-judge SC bench after a "difference of opinion" in a bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia. The three-judge bench was constituted after senior advocates—representing the Waqf Board—made a special mention. The bench also noted the writ petition is pending before a single-judge bench of the Karnataka HC, and questions over the matter will be addressed by the former.
What did the petitioners argue?
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Dushyant Dave—representing the Waqf Board—informed CJI UU Lalit that if the matter wasn't heard on Tuesday, the status quo of 200 years would be disturbed, Live Law reported. Dave also submitted the Places of Worship Act (Section 3) bars conversion of use of religious land. Muslims have been in uninterrupted possession of the land since 1871, the petition claimed.
State argues in favor of festivities at Eidgah ground
As mentioned before, the Karnataka government had permitted the use of the Idgah Maidan for Ganesh Chaturthi rituals. Appearing for the state, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi on Tuesday said that even if the ground has not been used in the past for this festival, it can be used now. "Can somebody say no because it is a Hindu festival?" Rohatgi remarked.
What exactly did the bench say?
Moreover, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta—appearing for the state—informed the bench the Karnataka government had granted permission for the festivities. However, according to Live Law, the bench remarked, "For 200 years it [Ganesh Utsav] was not done, you also admit...why not status quo, for 200 years whatever was not held, let it be (sic)." It stated the status quo shall be maintained by both parties.