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Supreme Court Forms 3-Judge Bench, Hearing Shortly

Ganesh Festival At Bengaluru Idgah Maidan: Supreme Court Hearing Shortly

New Delhi:

Karnataka Waqf Board’s opposition to using Bengaluru’s Idgah Maidan for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations by the state government reached the Supreme Court today, where two judges differed with each other, and now it’ll be heard by a three-judge bench to end the deadlock by the evening.

Since the festival is tomorrow, an urgent hearing was requested.

One of the waqf board’s arguments is that the Hindu festival in a space owned by the Muslim organisation is being held “with elections due next year”, hinting at political motives.

Karnataka has seen some communal violence in recent months, which has even led to demands that BJP should remove Basavaraj Bommai as Chief Minister.

About the festival tomorrow, the board’s lawyer, Kapil Sibal, said mandatory permission from the board wasn’t taken. “The land title is in the board’s name, since 1881,” he stressed.

When the court asked how Independence Day and other celebrations had been held on the ground earlier, he replied, “It’s by consent. Even children are allowed to play… But now the order is for a religious function.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the state government. “Ownership of the land was never questioned earlier. This is an open land with no boundaries,” he said.

“Kindly permit the government to use the land for tomorrow and the day after. The state will take care of any threat perception,” he told the court.

The waqf board said the matter should be decided on urgently as “it will become infructuous if not heard today”.

Now, Justices Indira Bannerjee, AS Oka and MM Sunderesh will hear it, after Chief Justice UU Lalit sought some time to discuss “with the judges available”.

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