The Karnataka High Court has refused to grant an interim stay on the controversial Tipu Sultan Jayanti celebrations set to take place in the state on November 10.
However, the court said that it would continue to consider the question of the legality of the celebrations, and asked the state government to file a response within four weeks.
Manjunath KP, the petitioner in the case, told TNM, "We had asked for an interim stay in the PIL. We had also asked the court to look into whether Tipu Jayanti should be celebrated in Karnataka. The court said that we have approached them too late to deliberate and decide on the interim stay, but it has given the government four weeks to respond to our petition."
In the last three years, each iteration of the annual Tipu Jayanti celebrations has faced pitched protests spearheaded by workers of the RSS and the BJP. Detractors of the celebration argue that Tipu was a tyrant and a murderer, and hence should not be celebrated in festivities sponsored by the government.
This was also one of the major points made in the current petition, said Manjunath. "We have also questioned the government's fund utilisation. To declare this as a state-wide celebration, we have asked the state government if they have followed the procedure and fulfilled the criteria. No one has asked this before," he said.
In response to these questions, the court asked the Advocate General, representing the state government, if there are laws or guidelines pertaining to allocation of money for such events. The High Court is also reviewing another petition related to Vidhana Soudhaâ€™s diamond jubilee celebrations.
Manjunath added that his petition was also based on the argument that last yearâ€™s celebration had caused law and order problems in Kodagu. "There were two deaths last year, and this is a law and order problem in Kodagu," he said.
The bench, in response, directed the police to reinforce security on the eve of the event, while deferring the larger issue of whether the celebrations should be held at all.
Numerous protests have broken out in the state since the Kannada and Culture Department issued a circular announcing that Tipu Jayanti celebrations would be conducted across the state on November 10.
With the Congress government determined to proceed with the celebrations despite stiff opposition from the BJP, RSS and other groups, police have tightened security in various places ahead of the event.
Udayavani reported that Southern Range IGP Vipul Kumar visited Madikeri and held a meeting with police officers of Kodagu district. The IGP reportedly asked officers to take strict action against those who try to break peace during the celebrations.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have also been issued in Udupi district from November 8 to November 11, while Kalaburgi police has decided to prohibit non-governmental public rallies on the day.