Succession row: Dharwad court's order set aside

BANGALORE, MARCH 11. The Karnataka High Court on Friday set aside the judgment of the First Additional District Judge, Dharwad, and the award of the Arbitral Tribunal in the Moorusavira Mutt succession case and remitted the matter back to the tribunal for fresh adjudication.

A Division Bench comprising Justice S.R. Nayak and Justice S.B. Majage passed the order on a petition by Rudramuni Devaru, the junior pontiff, challenging the September 5, 2000 order of the Dharwad court dismissing his petition questioning his removal.

The senior pontiff, Srimadh Maharaj Niranjan Jagadguru, had designated Rudramuni Devaru as the Uttaradhikari (successor) of the Moorusavira Mutt, Hubli. The appointment was registered on October 17, 1991.

On October 11, 1995, the senior pontiff cancelled the appointment of Rudramuni as his successor. He cited irreconcilable differences and disputes with his junior for his action.

The devotees of the mutt and well-wishers intervened and settled the dispute. On October 16, 1998 the senior pontiff executed a deed naming Rudramuni as his successor. A few days later, the senior pontiff again annulled the deed and named Gurusidda Rajayogindra Swamy as his successor.

When this led to tension, the matter was referred to arbitration. While both the senior pontiff and Rudramuni could nominate two members each, the Chief Minister was requested to nominate a fifth member to the arbitral tribunal.

The tribunal held sittings in 1998, and on March 27, 1999 passed an award. It said the senior pontiff could not re-register the name of Rudramuni as the successor (after his name had been cancelled by an earlier order). Rudramuni said the tribunal had not given him an opportunity and his (two) nominees had not been able to attend the sittings. He challenged the tribunal verdict in the Dharwad court, which dismissed his petition. Rudramuni then filed an appeal against the order of the Dharwad court and tribunal order in the High Court.

The Bench allowed Rudramuni's petition and set aside the orders of the Dharwad court and the tribunal. It directed the matter to be remitted back to the tribunal afresh and asked it to dispose of the petition in six months.