Bengaluru: Karnataka High Court yesterday declined to stay Government’s decision not to celebrate Tipu Jayanti as State function. However, hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the Court directed the State to reconsider its policy decision within two months.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S.R. Krishna Kumar issued the directions after hearing a PIL challenging the State Government’s July 30, 2019 order for cancelling the celebration as a State event.
Okay as a private event
Noticing that the Government has not banned celebrations of Tipu Jayanti by anyone as a private affair, the Bench directed the Government to take precautions to ensure such celebrations are held in peaceful and harmonious manner. The Government had stated in Court that it has not banned celebration of Tipu Jayanti by private people but have cancelled celebration by spending money from State exchequer.
The High Court Bench observed that Courts will have to go slow in interfering with policy decisions of the State. The Court pointed out that the decision to not celebrate Tipu Jayanti as a State event on Nov. 10 every year was taken without examining the orders passed by the Government in 2015 and 2016, giving elaborate reasons for celebrating the event by spending funds from the State exchequer. The earlier orders were not placed before the Government while deciding to withdraw the 2015 order.
As the Government reiterated its stand that there is no ban on the celebration by any person as a private event, the Bench directed the Government to take precautions to ensure such celebrations are held peacefully and in a harmonious manner.
The PIL petition was filed by Bilal Ali Shah, a resident of Lucknow, who claims to be Tipu Sultan’s descendant, and two organisations, Tipu Sultan United Front and Tipu Rashtriya Seva Sangha, Bengaluru. Though the Government claimed that it need not assign any reason for changing the policy and the Courts cannot interfere in policy decisions, the Bench said the Courts can interfere in certain instances, particularly when policies are arbitrary, etc.
In the present case, the Court said the Government in its 2015 and 2016 orders had stated that it had decided to celebrate Tipu Jayanti on the lines of many such birth anniversaries of various personalities to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities as per Article 51A of the Constitution, and to safeguard secular principles.
However, the July 30 order for cancelling the celebrations as a State event was based on a representation given by an MLA from Kodagu district, who had pointed to law and order problems caused during celebration of Tipu Jayanti only in Kodagu district in the past.
Two months to Government
While observing that the change in policies should be made fairly not arbitrarily though the reasons need not be recorded, the Bench gave two months to the Government to take an appropriate decision afresh after considering materials and observations made by the Court.
The Bench declined to accept the contention of the petitioner that the July 30 order was illegal as there was no Council of Ministers on that date as only CM had assumed office. The Bench said that the Chief Minister, being a Minister, is empowered to take a decision as head of the Cabinet and advice appropriately to the Governor till the appointment of other Ministers. The Bench adjourned further hearing till third week of January 2020.