â€‹Striking down the clause prohibiting those other than Hindus from bidding for shops belonging to Lakshmi Janardhanaswamy temple in Mandya, Karnataka high court has allowed Muslim traders to participate in the bidding process.
The Commissioner for Religious and Charitable Endowments had released a notice calling for a public auction of shops belonging to the temple on March 28. One of the clauses mentioned that only Hindus were allowed to participate, reported Bangalore Mirror.
An issue surfaced when 11 Muslim shopkeepers who have currently leased some of these shops, filed a petition to strike down the clause.
Following this the HC held that the 11 petitioners should be allowed to participate in the bidding process.
However, the issue with leasing shops to non-Hindus goes back to 2004 when the earlier lease had ended. After several hearings, in July 2011, HC asked all lease-holders to surrender their leases by 2014 after which the department was ordered to conduct fresh auctions.
Challenging the new lease auction in which the department justified the exclusion of non-Muslims according to Rule 31(2) of The Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997 which says that property situated near the temple, managed by the department, shall not be leased out to non-Hindus.
However, the Muslim shopkeepers insisted that in case of the temple the shops were not on the premises or near the temple and that non-Hindus have been tenants for a long time.