The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday expressed serious displeasure over the reported statement by Archbishop of Bangalore Bernard Moras on State Government’s decision to reduce the extent of land leased to Sumanahalli Society, a leprosy care centre, when the matter is sub-judice.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B.V. Nagarathna criticised the Archbishop as well as the media reports on his statements.

“Has he [Archbishop] become a legal expert? He has no business to speak on the issue [pending before the Court]. Shall we issue contempt notice…” the Bench orally asked when counsel for one of the petitioners, who has filed Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition challenging diversion of land belonging to Central Relief Centre (commonly known as Beggars’ Colony) to the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), informed the Bench about the media reports.

“Luckily I have not read the papers. I feel Archbishop or any other religious leaders should restrict themselves to temporal and religion related activities…,” the Chief Justice Sen observed orally.

Submission

However, senior counsel Ravivarma Kumar, appearing for the society, submitted that the Archbishop had only referred to the decision of the Government to lease only 5.23 acres of land to the society from the present 48.23 acres and pointed the society has been looking after leprosy patients who were once beggars and need land for its social service.

“Of course you [the society] are doing yeoman service. There is no doubt at all. I know how these centres receive funds… But, there is no dearth of funds. The question is these lands belong to beggars…,” the Chief Justice observed orally.

A writ petition filed by the society seeking a direction to the government continue lease of 48.23 acres of land, which is under society’s possession since 1977, is pending before the High Court. The lease expired in 2007.