The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday refused to grant a stay on a 30 July order issued by the B.S.Yediyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government cancelling state-sponsored celebrations of controversial 18th century ruler, Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary on 10 November.
Yediyurappa’s government had cancelled a 2016 order made during the Siddaramaiah-led Congress rule in the state.
“The court has said that the circumstances do not call for a drastic measure such as staying the impugned order," said a lawyer with the Advocate General’s (AG) office, requesting not to be named.
However, a division bench of Chief Justice of Karnataka Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S.R.Krishna Kumar, came down heavily on the incumbent government’s decision to cancel an earlier order in 2016 that details on the importance of celebrating Tipu Jayanti including reasons like upholding constitutional values, secularism, promoting peace and harmony between communities.
The Advocate General of Karnataka, Prabhuling.K.Navadgi said that the government will not oppose private celebrations of Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary. The court asked the government to take precautions and maintain law and order on 10 November.
The order comes at a time when the state has been trying to recover from one of the worst floods in over a century that has left a trail of devastation in calamity prone Karnataka.
The over three month old Yediyurappa government has been busy trying to stop state-sponsored celebration of Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary and also considering removing all mentions of the controversial ruler from Karnataka state board text books.
The BJP and its right wing affiliates have been channeling the tyrannical stories of mass murder, torture and pillaging against Kodavas, brahmins and Christians among others to stop the celebrations while the Congress and minority groups consider the late ruler a hero for taking up arms against the British colonisers.
The court rebuked the incumbent government for cancelling an earlier order, irrespective of which party was in power, without calling for any report and on the basis of possible outbreak of violence if the state-sponsored celebrations continued.
In 2015, the first year of official celebrations, violence broke out in Kodagu district in which one person died, several were injured and an air of communal tension prevails till this day around this time of the year.
Tipu Sultan was born on 10 November 1750 at Devanahalli, in the outskirts of Bengaluru, and was the ruler of Mysore from 1782 till his death in 1799.
The petitioners argued that the decision by Yediyurappa government was taken in haste and arbitrarily since there was no council of ministers at the time. The court observed that change in policy must be made “fairly and not arbitrarily’.
The court has asked the government to reconsider its decision and come before it on the third Monday of January next year.