Supreme Court of India. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, April 19 : The Supreme Court on Monday appointed a committee headed by former top court judge Justice B.N. Srikrishna to manage the affairs of the ancient Gokarna Mahabaleshwara Temple in Karnataka, as an interim arrangement.

In a judgment, a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said: "As an interim arrangement, the said 'Overseeing Committee' shall administer the temple pending consideration of this appeal... we direct that the 'Overseeing Committee' shall function under the Chairmanship of Justice B.N. Srikrishna, former judge, Supreme Court of India and manage the affairs of the temple in all respects." The temple, situated in Uttara Kannada district, is known as 'Dakshina Kashi'.

The bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, said: "The appropriate course in the interest of the temple as well as the devotees as also the 'Mutt' would be to allow the administration of the temple by an independent committee so that the temple is administered in an appropriate manner for the benefit of all devotees until a final determination is made." The bench added that the Srikrishna committee will take over the management of the temple from Ramachandrapura Math within 15 days.

The committee also consists of: Deputy Commissioner, Uttara Kannada District, Superintendent of Police, Uttara Kannada District, and Assistant Commissioner, Kumta SubDivision, Kumta, as well was "two eminent persons/scholars, capable of discharging their functions as members of the Committee, to be nominated by the state government; and two Upadivantas of Gokarna Temple to be nominated by the Deputy Commissioner in consultation with the state government".

"The committee shall oversee the functioning of the temple by adhering to all traditions," said the top court, noting that this arrangement will continue till the matter is finally decided by the top court.

The Ramchandrapura Math had moved the top court challenging the Karnataka High Court's judgement passed on August 10, 2018, quashing the B.S. Yeddyurappa government's decision of August 12, 2008 to hand over control of the temple to it.

"The proceedings of the Government resulting in the order dated 12.08.2008 to delete the temple, prima facie indicates to be a unilateral proceeding to which the contesting respondents were not parties," noted the top court.

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