After the Supreme Court issued a “status quo” decision today on a plea by the Karnataka Waqf Board, no Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations would take place at Bengaluru’s Idgah Maidan. This broke a standoff just in time, since the state administration was insisting on granting licences to set up pandals for the Hindu holiday tomorrow and the day following.
The High Court had previously ruled that the government may provide authorization, but the waqf board appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming that such religious celebrations had not been performed in the area “for 200 years.” The court’s three-judge bench issued an interim injunction for “status quo as of today,” indicating that the event will not take place on the grounds.
The SC has further asked parties to approach the Karnataka HC for adjudication of the issue.
On August 25, a single bench of the Karnataka High Court ruled that the site may only be used as a playground and for the government or the BBMP to celebrate Independence Day and Republic Day. The Muslim community can worship on both Eids, according to the statement. However, a division bench changed the ruling on appeal the next day, allowing the government to make a judgement on the land.
The state Waqf board had petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the Ganesh Chathurthi celebrations at the ground.
Waqf attorney and prominent advocate Kapil Sibal requested an urgent hearing into the subject, warning a bench led by Chief Justice of India U U Lalit that “unnecessary tensions will be created” if the matter is not heard soon. Muslims have been using the property for decades, according to Sibal.
Earlier on Monday, reports said the Karnataka government may let a temple affiliated with the Muzrai department, rather than any Hindutva or local organisation, to establish a one-day pandal at Bengaluru’s controversial Idgah Maidan for Ganesh Chathurthi on August 31.
The BJP government has been under pressure from Hindutva groups wanting to install a Ganesh statue at the 2.5-acre Idgah Maidan in south Bengaluru since the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) ruled on August 6 that the 2.5-acre Idgah Maidan belonged to the state rather than the Waqf board, which was granted congregational rights over the land in 1965.