Mahatma Gandhi statue and Karnataka HC
Mahatma Gandhi statue and Karnataka HC
Litigation News

"He was truly a democrat who never liked human beings being worshipped", Mahatma Gandhi statue is not a religious institution: Karnataka HC

The Court added that if the thoughts and views propagated by the Father of the Nation during his lifetime are considered, it would be impossible to accept that his statue is a place of public religious worship.

Rintu Mariam Biju

The Karnataka High Court recently held that a statute of Mahatma Gandhi can neither be considered as a 'religious institution' or a 'place of worship'.

The order passed by Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice NS Sanjay Gowda reads,

"By no stretch of imagination, we can hold that the statue of the Father of the Nation is a ‘religious institution’. The emphasis in Sub-rule (3) of Rule 3 of said Rules of 1967 is on a place of public religious worship. It is impossible to accept that the statue of the Father of the Nation can be a ‘religious institution’."

Karnataka High Court

The Court added that if the thoughts and views propagated by the Father of the Nation during his lifetime are considered, it would be impossible to accept that his statue is a place of public religious worship.

Highlighting this, the order reads,

"The Father of the Nation has a unique place. He was above all religions. He was truly a democrat who never liked human beings being worshipped."

The Bench made these observations while refusing to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking the cancellation of licence to Tonique, a liquor boutique in Bengaluru, under the provisions of the Karnataka Excise (Sale of Indian and Foreign Liquors) Rules, 1968.

In his petition filed before the Court, Advocate AV Amarnathan claimed that the statue of Gandhi at Bal Bhavan in Bangalore's Cubbon Park, a Church, and the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police were situated within a distance of 100 meters from the premises of the liquor store.

However, by order dated July 9, the objections based on the statue of the Gandhi were excluded. With regard to the other objections, a direction was issued to the jurisdictional Tahsildar to carry out the exercise of measuring the distance with the help of a government surveyor.

Additional Government Advocate Vijaykumar A Patil filed a memo of compliance which recorded that the distance between the main entrance of the premises of Tonique and the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police through the footpath is 126.50 meters. Secondly, it was stated that the distance between the main entrance of the liquor store and the entrance gate of St. Martha's Church was144.00 meters.

The Court recorded that as there was no merit in the objections raised by the petitioner, it was not necessary to look into the question of locus of the petitioner. With these observations, the Court proceeded to the reject the plea.

[Read order here]

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