In a late-night hearing, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday allowed Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations to be held at the Idgah ground in Hubbali, PTI reported.

A single-judge bench of Justice Ashok S Kinagi passed the order on a plea challenging Dharwad municipal commissioner’s permission to celebrate Ganeshotsav at Idgah ground in Hubbali-Dharwad – the twin city municipality.

In his order, Justice Kinagi noted that the plot of land of the Idgah ground belonged to the Dharwad municipality. The petitioner, Anjuman-e-Islam, was only a leaseholder for a period of 999 years at a fee of Re 1 per year, the judge held, according to PTI.

The hearing took place hours after the Supreme Court set aside a Karnataka High Court order allowing Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations celebration at Bengaluru’s Idgah maidan.

On Tuesday morning, Justice Kinagi allowed the Dharwad municipal commissioner to consider the applications received for the installation of the idol of Ganesha at the Idgah ground in Hubbali.

He had passed the order in view of the Karnataka High Court order on Bengaluru’s Idgah ground, noting, however, that an appeal against the order was slated to be heard by the Supreme Court. Kinagi had allowed the petitioners to mention the matter again in the event of the Supreme Court passing an order.

At the hearing on the Hubbali matter, which started around 10 pm, Anjuman-e-Islam claimed that the plot of land in question was protected under the Places of Worship Act, 1991, which says no religious place of worship can be converted.

The single-judge bench, however, noted that the plot was not a religious place of worship and prayers were allowed at the site only during Eid, reported Bar and Bench.

“It is not in dispute that property belongs to respondent [Hubli Dharwad Municipal Corporation],” the court said. “The petitioner is the licensee and permitted to use [the land] only on two occasions.”

The bench also ruled that Anjuman–i-Islam was not entitled to a favourable decision on grounds of the Supreme Court verdict in the Bengaluru matter as facts were different in the Hubbali case.

The Supreme Court order

In August, several Hindu groups demanded permission to celebrate Ganeshotsav on Bengaluru’s Idgah Maidan, where Muslims offer prayers.

The ground is locked in an ownership tussle between the Karnataka Waqf Board and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the municipal body in Bengaluru.

The Karnataka High Court had given the group the permission to celebrate the festival that will be held on Wednesday.

The state Waqf board then approached the Supreme Court against the High Court order. Waqf Board counsel Kapil Sibal on August 29 had sought an urgent hearing into the matter, informing a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Lalit that “unnecessary tensions will be created”, if it was not taken up immediately.

The land, Sibal said, has been in use by Muslims for decades. Sibal also cited a 1964 Supreme Court order which stated that the Bengaluru civic body had no power to govern the Idgah maidan.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice of India UU Lalit formed a three-judge bench to hear the petition. The bench then asked the Hindu groups to perform Ganeshotsav rituals elsewhere.

“Issues raised in the SLP [special leave petition] may be agitated by both parties before HC [Karnataka High Court],” the court said. “In the meanwhile status quo as of today be maintained by both sides. SLP is disposed of.”