Karnataka HC reserves judgment on plea against appointment of Murugha Matha administrator

The government appointed retired IAS officer PS Vastrad as the administrator based on a report by Chitradurga deputy commissioner.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 17, 2022 | 1:59 PMUpdatedDec 17, 2022 | 2:55 PM

The Karnataka High Court

Justice Krishna S Dixit of the Karnataka High Court has reserved the judgment on a petition challenging the appointment of an administrator to the Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra Bruhan Matha in Chitradurga.

One DS Mallikarjuna and three others moved the petition challenging the appointment of the administrator.

The government defended the appointment saying that the head pontiff of the Matha, Shivamurthy Sharanaru, has been in judicial custody since 1 September.

After hearing the arguments, the judge reserved the judgment on Friday, 16 December.

Shivamurthy Sharanaru was arrested on two separate charges of sexually assaulting four minor girls, who were residing in the Matha-run hostel.

The state government appointed retired IAS officer PS Vastrad as the administrator of the Matha on 13 December.

Interim chief against administrator

The interim chief of the Matha, Basavaprabhu Swami, was opposed to the appointment. He wanted Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to withdraw the decision that has “disappointed lakhs of devotees”.

Basavaprabhu Swami

Basavaprabhu Swami. (Supplied)

Basavaprabhu Swami took over as the interim chief after the arrest of the highly influential head pontiff. He has been trying to prevent the government from appointing an administrator ever since he took charge.

The government appointed the administrator suspecting misappropriation of Matha’s assets and finances and misuse of administration.

Chitradurga deputy commissioner, who recommended the appointment of an administrator, had raised the suspicion that Matha’s properties would be usurped. Besides the deputy commissioner, the advocate general of Karnataka, too, backed the appointing of an administrator.

The Matha has around 3,000 employees in its 150 institutions, including around 80 educational institutions, across the country. It also has around 150 people employed at the Matha premises.

The preliminary charge sheet against Shivamurthy Sharanaru filed on 27 October mentioned shocking instances of sexual abuse, rampant drug use and an illegal adoption racket.

After the first case was registered, more girls came forward with complaints against the pontiff.