Bill on mutts, Congress govt in Karnataka on backfoot

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Bengaluru, Dec 23: Facing severe heat from mutts, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has himself expressed reservations over a bill introduced in the Assembly which has snowballed into a major controversy as Hindu religious heads fear it is an attempt to take over their institutions.

"I spoke to Chief Minister. He said let us not interfere in this needlessly. Why do you want this (controversial bill?)" Law and Parliamentary Minister T B Jayachandra quoted Siddaramaiah as having said at a cabinet meeting.


The Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments (Amendment) Bill of 2014 was introduced in the just concluded legislature session at Belagavi, amid stiff opposition from BJP which termed it an attempt to interfere in the affairs of Hindu religious institutions.

The bill has raised the hackles of seers of mutts across the state who say it is needless interference and question why only Hindu religious institutions are being "targetted".

Jayachandra said he apprised the ministers about the legal compulsions for introducing the bill. Several ministers reportedly expressed unhappiness over the bill. "We introduced the bill in the House due to legal compulsion.

The Supreme Court, on January 13, will be giving their final verdict on a special leave petition filed by the then JDS-BJP government in connection with a suit involving Sahasra Lingeshwara Swamy Devasthana at Uppinangadi in Dakshina Kannada," he said.

"If we do not comply with the commitment, I have my apprehensions - I do not know what orders they (Supreme Court) would pass. I will discuss this with Chief Minister again and also with our advocate and then decide (once the Supreme Court pronounces its final verdict)," he added.

Jayachandra said the government does not have any intention to take over mutts and temples by way of this bill.

He said the religious heads of various mutts and temples should not be worried because mutts will be taken over only if the head of the institution voluntarily applies for doing so, or if the head of the mutt is a minor without a duly appointed guardian or is physically or mentally unable to manage the affairs of the mutt.

Also mutts will be taken over if the head of the mutt expires without appointing any successor or if there is dispute regarding the right of succession, Jayachandra said.


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