The Karnataka High Court reiterated that a change in government does not empower it to obilterate all the nominations made by the earlier government, as it is against the constitutional principle of the continuing governmental action.

The Court also emphasised that the directions of the Constitutional Courts will prevail through all changes in government.

In that context, the Bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna observed that, "when the matter was completely seized by the Apex Court and the Committee was constituted pursuant to the directions of the Apex Court, it was not open to the State to change the nominations without it being brought to the notice of the Apex Court. The power of the State may be available to change the nominations which would however be subject to judicial review. But, that would not clothe the State with the power, in the case at hand, as the case has emerged out of peculiar circumstance of the Committee being constituted pursuant to the directions of the Apex Court."

It was further observed that, "Governments may come and Governments may go, the Writ of Constitutional Courts would run and run for all times to come. The direction of the Apex Court is sought to be completely flouted on the score that there is a change of guard. Change in Government would not clothe, the Government with power to completely obliterate all the nominations made by the earlier Government, by a stroke of pen. This is sans countenance, as it is opposed to principle of continuing governmental action / decision, a facet of constitutionalism, unless it is found that the acts done by the earlier regime to be contrary to statutory provisions."

Counsel Manmohan PN appeared for the petitioner, while AG Shashiran Shetty, along with others, appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the petitioners challenged an order which de-notified the nominations of the petitioners as Members of Shree Ramachandrapura Math.

Shree Ramachandrapura Math, represented by its Peetadhipathi, sought the deletion of Gokarna Mahabaleshwara Temple from the list of notified temples under the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997. Despite earlier challenges, a committee was constituted following the Apex Court's directions.

After the 2023 Karnataka Legislative Assembly elections, the government issued an order to remove all nominations, leading to the impugned order on 12-07-2023. The petitioners contended that their removal violated the Apex Court's directions, while the State argued its power to modify the committee. The new nominees defended their appointments.

The High Court took the view that the State sought to overreach the order passed by the Apex Court without bringing it to the notice of the Apex Court and seeking an express approval of such tinkering. In that context, it was observed that, "the constitution of the Committee is in terms of the order passed by the Apex Court; if the State wanted to change the constitution of the Committee as is sought to be done by the corrigendum, it ought to have approached the Apex Court prior to the impugned corrigendum... If the constitution of the Committee had to be meddled with, on the ground that there is a change in the Government, the State Government ought to have sought permission as observed hereinabove."

In light of the same, the impugned order was set aside.


Petitioners: Counsel Manmohan PN

Respondents: AG Shashikiran Shetty, AAG HV Bhanuprakash, AGA Navya Shekhar, Counsel Arjum Rao

Cause Title: Shree Ramachandrapura Math & Anr. vs The State of Karnataka & Ors.

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