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Boy as pontiff: Karnataka HC reserves verdict in Shiroor Mutt case

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BENGALURU: The high court on Thursday reserved its verdict with regard to a PIL challenging the anointing of a 16-year-old boy as mathadhipathi/pontiff of Shiroor Mutt, one of the ashta mutts of Udupi.

A division bench headed by acting chief justice Satish Chandra Sharma heard the parties at length before reserving the verdict.

Senior advocate SS Naganand, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae, told the court that there is no statutory, much less constitutional, bar on a person of less than 18 years of age being initiated into sanyasa and it is not a pernicious practice.

About the practice of dwandwa mutt or pairing mutt system, wherein the head of the paired mutt has the authority to appoint such successor in the event of the head of one of the mutts passing away without nominating his successor, he said the Madras high court had already recognised the said custom in 1917.

Counsel for Sode Sri Vadiraja mutt, which had anointed the 16- year old pontiff, claimed that the petitioners have personal interest in the matter as one of them is the blood-brother of erstwhile pontiff of Shiroor Mutt and others are his relatives, who want to make one of their boys the pontiff.

The government advocate told the court that the prayers sought for in the petition cannot be granted in a PIL as the mutt is a private entity and added that Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution confers certain rights vis-a-vis religious matters.

(Source: Times Of India)

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