A Karnataka High Court Bench of Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice Vijaykumar A Patil has upheld the order of a Single Judge, by which the State's decision to permit only a Muslim Priest to perform rituals at a holy cave shrine which is revered by both Hindus and Muslims was quashed.

Senior Advocate Vivek Subba Reddy, AG Prabhuling K. Navadagi, and AAG Aruna Shyam appeared for the Respondents before the High Court.

In this case, an order of a Single Judge was impugned, by which the Single Judge had quashed the State's decision to permit only a Muslim Priest (Mujawar) to perform rituals at a holy cave shrine which is revered by both Hindus and Muslims (the Datta Peeta). The Single Judge found this to violate Article 25 of the Constitution and the rights it confers to both communities.

The Division Bench observed, "The hall mark of our Constitution is to build a society to attain justice and erase inequities flowing from religion, gender, caste and privileges. In this background, Articles 25 to 30 are incorporated in the Constitution".

Further, the Court was of the considered opinion that "The religious institution is composite in nature where members of both the communities are the devotees. The religious institution is entitled to protection of Article 26 of the Constitution of India. The State Government has dealt with the sensitive issue in a pragmatic manner and has taken an action to manage the religious institution after consulting the representatives of both the communities. The committee constituted by the State Government is managing the affairs of the religious institution without any complaint from any section of the society. The subsequent orders passed during the pendency of the appeal regarding performance of the rites in the religious institution have not been assailed on the ground that either it is arbitrary or is violative of fundamental rights of any section of the society."

In similar context, the Court observed that "The court even otherwise also should be very circumspect in a dispute with regard to rites and rituals to be performed in a religious institution. The courts normally therefore, would not enter into such a dispute particularly when by reason thereof fundamental right of a group of devotees under Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India, may be infringed. For this reason also, at this point of time, no interference is called for. This dispute, which had arisen five decades ago needs to be put to rest in the absence of any controversy either by members of Hindu or Muslim Community."

Therefore, the Court did not find any ground to differ from the view taken by the Single Judge. The appeals were dismissed.

Cause Title: Syed Ghouse Mohiyuddin v. State of Karnataka & Ors.

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