The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed the BS Yedyurappa-led government to reconsider its decision to ban the celebrations of controversial 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary on November 10.
The division bench, headed by Chief Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice S.R. Krishnakumar said, "We direct the state government to reconsider its July 30 decision and take appropriate decision in the light of the observations made in this interim order."
The HC declined to stay the ban on Hazrat Tipu Jayanti and sought in public interest litigation (PIL), which was filed to challenge the government's decision to cancel the November 10 Tipu Jayanti celebrations as a state event. It directed the government to reconsider its decision in two months and deferred the next hearing of the case until the third Monday of January 2020.
HC's order said, "The state government can file objections, state details of Jayanti celebrations of personalities at the state level and orders if any, of the celebration of these festivals."
"It should not look like the decision was taken arbitrarily," the bench added. The court observed that the state took the decision without considering the reasons mentioned in the previous decisions to celebrate Tipu Jayanti. The state Kannada and Culture Department cancelled the Tipu celebrations on a letter by BJP legislator K.G. Bopaiah from Kodagu, about 270km southwest of Bengaluru.
The court also said that the state government would not prevent anyone from celebrating Tipu Jayanti across the state and it would also protect those celebrating the Hazrat Tipu Jayanti on November 10, peacefully.
The previous Congress-led government in Karnataka began celebrating Tipu Jayathi since November 2015 onwards despite protests by the BJP and many right-wing organisations, which consider the 'Tiger of Mysore' a tyrant, religious bigot and anti-Hindu. The party had been opposing the annual event since it was started by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in 2015.
BJP MLA from Kodagu had demanded the removal of a lesson on Tipu Sultan from school textbooks, following which the government formed a committee to look into it and submit a report. Soon after coming to power in Karnataka, the BJP government had in July scrapped the celebration of Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary.
BJP and right-wing organisations have been strongly opposing Tipu Sultan, calling the erstwhile Mysore king a "religious bigot".
Tipu Sultan was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company.
He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces.
Tipu Sultan, however, is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as the Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe thousands of their men and women were seized and held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forcible conversion to Islam.
He was also accused of execution of Mandyam Iyengars in the temple town of Melkote in Mandya district on the day of Diwali as they supported the then Maharaja of Mysuru.
However, the scale of such suppression is disputed by several historians, who see Tipu Sultan as a secular and modern ruler who took on the might of the British.
A few Kannada outfits also call Tipu Sultan "anti-Kannada", alleging that he had promoted Persian at the cost of the local language.
(With inputs from PTI)