Karnataka Waqf Council’s objection to Bengaluru’s use of Idgah Maidan for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations has reached the High Court today where two judges differ from each other, and now it will be heard by a three-judge bench to end the deadlock in the evening.
Since the festival takes place tomorrow, an urgent hearing has been requested and granted. The state government, which has authorized its use, argues that it could be heard the day after tomorrow.
One of the waqf board’s arguments is that the Hindu festival in the Muslim organization’s owned space is being celebrated “with elections next year”, alluding to political motives. Elections for the centrally run municipal corporation – Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike or BBMP – are scheduled for 2023.
Karnataka has seen some community violence in recent months, even leading to a demand for the BJP to remove Basavaraj Bommai as Prime Minister.
Regarding the festival tomorrow, the board’s lawyer, Kapil Sibal, said the required permission from the board has not been granted. “Land ownership has been in the name of the board, since 1881,” he stressed.
When the court asked how Independence Day and other celebrations had been celebrated before, he replied: “It is by consent. Even children are allowed to play… But now this command is for a religious function.”
Attorney General Tushar Mehta appeared for the state government. “Land ownership has never been set before. This is an open land with no boundaries,” he said.
“Please allow the government to use the land for tomorrow and the day after. The state will be interested in any perception of threat,” he told the court.
The waqf board said the matter should be decided urgently as “it will be in vain if not heard today”.
Now, Judges Indira Bannerjee, AS Oka and MM Sunderesh will hear it, after Chief Justice UU Lalit found some time to discuss “with the available judges”.