Karnataka HC dismisses petition seeking Bharat Ratna for Shivakumara Swamiji

Published on Apr 02, 2022 12:33 PM IST

On the day of the 115th birth anniversary of the revered seer of the Lingayat community, the Karnataka High Court dismissed a petition to confer the Bharat Ratna award to the late Sri Shivakumara Swamiji.

Shivakumara Swami, the main pontiff of Sree Siddaganga Mutt died at the age of 111.
Shivakumara Swami, the main pontiff of Sree Siddaganga Mutt died at the age of 111.

The High Court of Karnataka on Friday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) which sought a direction to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to confer Bharat Ratna on the late Shivakumara Swamiji of the Siddaganga Math in Tumakuru district. 

The division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice S R Krishna Kumar dismissed the petition by one Rehan Khan, holding that such a direction can be issued only when the petitioner enjoys such a right. But in this case, no such right is enjoyed by the petitioner to seek such a direction. 

The HC said it is the Union government which has the powers to confer Bharat Ratna and other national civilian awards. No individual enjoys any such power to grant the honours and therefore does not have the right to seek such a direction. 

The petitioner's advocate Mohammed Tahir had argued that the Union government had established the Bharat Ratna in 1954 to recognise exceptional contribution in the fields of arts, science and public service. Considering the contribution of Shivakumara Swamiji in the field of education, the petitioner had written to the Prime Minister on October 12, 2021 to recommend the Swamiji's name to the President of India to confer the highest civilian award. 

The court was asked to direct the PM to consider the letter. The Chief Justice asked the petitioner's counsel whether he was aware of the petition which sought the Bharat Ratna for industrialist Ratan Tata (The Delhi High Court had dismissed the said petition). 

Since individuals do not have the power to make such recommendations, the court cannot issue any such direction, the court said. On a lighter note, the court said the petitioner could have met Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was reported to be in Bengaluru, and submitted the request to him and he could have spoken to the Prime Minister. 

The petition coincidentally was dismissed on the day when the 115th birth anniversary of Sri Shivakumara Swamiji was celebrated. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi visited the Siddaganga Mutt in Tumakuru on Thursday, while Home Minister Amit Shah visited the Mutt on Friday for the birth anniversary and Guru Vandana programme.


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