The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjured a status quo in context to the State Government’s decision to hold the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in Idgah Maidan which the plaintiff considers Waqf property.
The order was progressed by a three-bench judge held by Justices Indira Banerjee, AS Oka, and MM Sundresh. The decision was taken conductively after the court’s working hours.
“Status quo as of today to be maintained. Issues to be taken up by single-judge. SLP disposed of,” the order said.
The bench further confined the matter to the single-judge of the High Court to be decided on merit.
History of Idgah Maiden
Ownership Of the Land
The 2.1 acres of land in Bengaluru have been subject to dispute for several years. One of the oldest localities in Chamrajpet has been gazetted as Waqf property.
The map of Bengaluru showcases the burial grounds and Idgah in the maidan. Simultaneously, the ground is also used as a playground for all.
The dispute over its ownership arose after the city’s municipal corporation, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) claimed the land as its property. But, on the other hand, Muslim organizations argued that the land belonged to the Karnataka State Waqf Board.
BBMP Flips Its Ownership Claims
In June this year, BBMP took a complete U-turn of its ownership of the Idgah land. They said that the maiden was in their possession.
Tushar Giri Nath, the Chief Commissioner of BBMP said, “We do not own the land, but had the maidan in our possession.”
Furthermore, the municipal corporation asked the Waqf board to initiate the change in ownership of the land and submit the obligatory documents to verify their claims.
Hindutva Groups Take Over
Several Hindutva groups like the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Vishwa Sanatana Parishat, Sri Rama Sena, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Jagaran Samithi, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad opposed the BBMP’s move of giving up ownership of the maidan. Moreover, they started a door-to-door campaign demanding the land be seized back as a playground.
These groups also aspire to change the name of the maidan inspired by Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, the last king of Mysore. At the same time, they took to the streets, making sure shopkeepers did not get to open their shops. They were later detained by the police on July 12.
Karnataka High Court Breaks Status Quo
On August 26, the Karnataka High Court devised a bench constituting Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice Savanur Vishwajith Shetty to permit the celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi on the Idgah maidan. The Court’s indication came after the Karnataka state government filed an appeal to break the status quo as ordered by an interim order.
The high court also gave the state government the power to decide on celebrating the Hindu festival on the ground. Furthermore, they asked the government to consider applications from all religions and cultures to conduct their activities on the disputed land.
“The Indian Society comprises, 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,” added the division bench.
Supreme Court Interferes
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the High Court and ordered status quo on the matter by the parties involved.
“The issues raised in the Special Leave Petition may be agitated by both parties before the High Court. In the meanwhile, the status quo as of today will be maintained by both sides. SLP is disposed of,” the bench also comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and M M Sundresh said.
The Idgah maidan has been disputed over by the state authorities and Muslim organizations for decades. The boundaries of the land to be utilized by other communities remain blurred as the Supreme Court ordered the status quo.