By LE Desk

New Delhi, April 19: Former Supreme Court judge Justice B N Srikrishna will head the ‘Overseeing Committee’ constituted by the Karnataka High Court to manage the affairs of the Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple till a final decision is taken on its status, the Supreme Court ordered Monday.

A bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said the matter requires detailed consideration and that in the meantime, “the appropriate course in the interest of the temple as well as the devotees as also the ‘Mutt’ would be to allow the administration of the temple by an independent committee so that the temple is administered in an appropriate manner for the benefit of all devotees until a final determination is made”, The Indian Express reported.

The interim order came while hearing a plea by the Ramachnadrapura Mutt, challenging an August 2018 ruling of the Karnataka HC setting aside a 2008 government order removing the temple from the list of shrines brought under the purview of the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997, by the state government in 2003.

The HC, while quashing the 2008 Government Order and holding that the temple shall continue to be included in the list of notified institutions as per the Act, had also constituted an Overseeing Committee under the chairmanship of the Uttara Kannada Deputy Commissioner to manage its affairs.

As per Monday’s Supreme Court order, this committee will now be headed by Justice Srikrishna and will have seven more members.

After hearing parties opposed to the Mutt’s plea, the SC said that “in a matter where rival contentions are being urged by the appellants and the contesting respondents relating to the status of the temple, appropriate determination/adjudication is required to be made in accordance with law after providing opportunity to both” and that this would require detailed hearing.

Monday’s ruling also pointed out that the 1997 Act under which the notification was issued in 2003, was thereafter declared as unconstitutional by the HC and a challenge to this is pending considerations in the top court.

“Thus, the result in the said appeal would also have a bearing on this case, apart from the factual aspects involved in these petitions which require deeper consideration,” the Supreme Court said, as reported by The Indian Express.

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