The Honourable Supreme Court has passed a remarkable judgement through which the control of the famed Gokarna Temple in Karnataka has been snatched from the Congress-JD (S) led state government. According to a report published in Swarajya, the Supreme Court verdict has overturned the earlier judgement of the Karnataka High Court which had given the H D Kumaraswamy led Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government the authority to take over the administration of the Gokarna temple from the Ramachandrapura Math. The Supreme Court bench consisting of Justice A M Khanwilkar and Kurian Joseph overturned the attempt by the Karnataka government to overtake the administration of the Gokarna temple. The decision was welcomed by the seer of the Ramachandrapura Math Sri Raghaveshwara Bharati, who tweeted, ‘Satyameva Jayate’, welcoming the decision.
The Gokarna temple had been under government control until August 2008, when the B S Yeddyurappa led Bharatiya Janta Party government in the state had handed over the administration of the temple to the Ramachandrapura Math. For good 10 years the Math had retained the control of the Gokarna temple with no objections coming from either the temple authorities or the general public. In a bid to gain control of the wealth and property of the temple which comes with it, the JDS-Congress alliance government had tried to wrench it out of the control of the Math. The Karnataka High Court too had sided with the state government and had ordered it to regain control of the temple from 10th September after taking stock of the inventories. The state government had set up a committee headed by a retired judge and six officials to oversee the temple administration after taking stock of the inventories. The Math had rightfully taken the decision to file a contempt petition before Supreme Court. The verdict coming from the Supreme Court has delighted not just the members of the Math administration but also the general public who were against the government’s intervention in the working of the Gokarna temple. The apex court had also ordered the state government to refrain from taking over the administration till the final verdict on the pending case was delivered.
Since the independence, Hindu religious institutions are gradually being taken over by the state government to use their resources. The management boards which control temples are mostly headed by some ‘esteemed academician’ who doesn’t even believe in God or doubt the existence of one. The priests are not allowed to interfere in the management of temples, and are finally getting fed up of these corrupt board managers. The plain and shocking truth is that successive, supposedly secular governments which have ruled in upwards of 60 years at the centre till 2014 and at various state levels have been controlling, selling-off, distributing, and profiting from the collections of Hindu temples. The fact is that an offering made by a Hindu devotee in good faith can be siphoned-off to feed the coffers of Governments or directed elsewhere to provide grants to Christian and Muslim places of worship and education. Christian and Muslim establishments on the other hand have full autonomy with regard to the funds, administration, and assets of their places of worship and education. This led to the coining of the word “Reverse Discrimination” by Swamy Dayananda Sarasvati. India is probably the only country where in the name of secularism the majority community has been continuously discriminated against, in all walks of life. The Supreme Court order on Gokarna Temple should serve as a benchmark for the future judgments of the courts and for the various state governments who want to control the temples and its properties.
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