Karnataka High Court permits State Government to consider applications for holding religious and cultural activities at Eidgah Maidan for limited period

Karnataka High Court

Karnataka High Court: In a case where the State has filed an appeal to seek modification in an interim order passed by Single Judge giving permission for using Eidgah Maidan, the land under challenge for title, for celebrating Independence Day/Republic Day or as a public playground or for offering prayers by Muslim community only in Ramzan and Bakri Eid festivals, a Division Bench of Abhay Shreeniwas Oka CJ., and Vishwajith Shetty J. permitted the State Government to consider applications filed by organizations seeking use of the land in question for holding religious and cultural activities and pass appropriate orders for a limited period without interfering in the interim directions already laid down by the Single Judge.

A petition was filed by Karnataka State Board of Waqf seeking digitization/computerization of the land namely Eidgah Maidan located in Charamarajpet, Bangalore, in its name. The Joint Commissioner, BBMP rejected the petition by order dated 06-08-2022. An application was filed seeking interim stay on the order dated 06-08-2022. The Court however passed the following relief vide order dated 25-08-2022:

The Court restrained the parties from using the land for any purpose, except;

(i) The State Government / BBMP are permitted to celebrate Independence Day and Republic Day on the subject land.

(ii) The subject land can be continued to be used as a public playground.

(iii) The members of the Muslim community can continue to offer prayers on the subject land on the days of Ramzan and Bakrid festivals, however, are not permitted to offer prayers on any other day.

Aggrieved by this, the present appeal was filed by the Government of Karnataka.

State submitted that that there is a dispute with regard to title of the land in question and the Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore City has received as many as five applications from various organizations seeking permission to use the land in question on 31-08-2022 for a limited period for the purpose of holding religious and cultural activities and the State Government be permitted to take appropriate decision on the aforesaid application.

The Court noted that the Indian society comprises of religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities. The Constitution of India itself fosters brotherhood amongst various sections of the Society. The principle of religious toleration is the characteristic of Indian civilization.

Thus, the Court modified the interim order dated 25-08-2022 to permit the State Government to consider and pass appropriate orders on applications received by the Deputy Commissioner seeking use of the land in question for holding religious and cultural activities for a limited period from 31-08-2022 onwards, subject to no alterations in the interim directions.

[State of Karnataka v. Karnataka State Board of Auqaf, 2022 SCC OnLine Kar 1483, decided on 26-08-2022]

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