The Department of Religious Institutions and Endowments has invited applications from people of both Hindu and Muslim communities to be members of the management committee of ‘Sri Guru Dattatreya Bababudan Swamy Dargah’. The eight-member committee will include two women and there should be at least one member from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe each.
The notification was released on August 17 as per the Government Order issued on July 19. This followed the recommendations of the Cabinet sub-committee headed by Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J.C. Madhuswamy. People aged 25 or above, “who have faith in god”, can apply for the committee. The applicants should have a track record of good conduct. The Cabinet sub-committee on Sri Guru Dattatreya Bababudan Swamy Dargah issue had recommended the appointment of both a priest and a mujawar to perform rituals at the shrine.
However, this notification has not gone well with Ghouse Mohiyuddin Shah Khadri, the hereditary administrator of the shrine, who has been fighting in courts to retain his hold on the shrine venerated by both Hindus and Muslims. He told The Hindu that the government had issued an order on the Cabinet sub-committee’s recommendation, even as a hearing of his petition on the issue was pending in the Karnataka High Court. “The government should have waited until the final order. We will contest this notification in court,” he said.
The previous Congress government issued an order on March 19, 2018, stating that the rituals that were prevailing at the shrine on August 15, 1947, the day when India got Independence, should be continued at the shrine.
The order was challenged by Sri Gurudattatreya Peeta Devasthana Samvardhana Samiti in the High Court. The court quashed the government’s order on September 28, 2021, and directed the State government to look into the controversy afresh. As per the order, the State government constituted the Cabinet sub-committee, which held hearings in Chikkamagaluru and received objections from the interested parties.
However, Shah Khadri had filed a writ petition challenging the High Court order. The court, in its interim order on May 31, 2022, directed the government to take a decision on the issue and bring it to the notice of the court. Shah Khadri and his advocate Mohammed Ahmed said that the government had not followed the court’s direction.