The Karnataka High Court on Monday disallowed a petitioner from continuing a Public Interest Litigation petition after he filed an affidavit asserting that he would continue to visit a temple even while fighting a legal battle against the alleged mismanagement of the temple, illegal construction of the temple and buildings associated with it by encroaching upon government and the forest lands by the temple management. Now, the court has decided to treat the petition, filed by A. Velumurugan, as a petition initiated suo motu by the court itself on the issues of illegalities associated with Shiva Subramanya temple at Bhadragiri in Tarikere taluk of Chikkamagaluru district.
‘Make a choice’
During the hearing in September, the court asked the petitioner, who claims to be a pro bono litigant, “to make a choice and tell the court whether he still wants to continue his visits to the said temple as he is claiming that he is a devotee of the said temple”.
On Monday, the petitioner filed an affidavit stating, “I submit that my family members during the lifetime of my father and and after his death have been visiting the temple since we are the devotees and have religious faith in the said temple. I stand by the fact that I have religious faith and continue to be a devotee of the temple and visit the temple and my visiting the said temple will not come in the way of my ventilating the grievances in respect of mismanagement of the temple, encroaching of government lands, particularly forest land and construction of unauthorised structures and usurping the income of the temple by the trustees”.
However a Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty, disapproved the contention of the petitioner that he, being a pro bono litigant, could pursue the legal fight despite being associated with the temple.
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