BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court on Monday stayed the construction work for installing the tallest Jesus Christ statue in the world at Kapalabetta, around 80 km from Bengaluru, in Kanakapura taluk of Ramanagara district, saying no work should be carried out without its permission. Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) which stated that the land was allotted illegally for the installation of the statue and it was an attempt to grab government land to fulfil selfish ends of two politicians and their followers in the garb of self-styled guardians of the Christian community, the court restrained the Harobele Kapalabetta Abhivruddhi Trust from carrying out the construction work.
‘Kanakapura has very few Christians’
Hearing the petition filed by Anthony Swamy and seven others, a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi passed the interim order and issued notices to the state government and Trust.Stating that Kanakapura has a negligible population of 2,000 Christians and of which 1,500 are residing at Harobele and Nallahalli villages, the petitioners alleged that the then Energy Minister D K Shivakumar and his brother D K Suresh, who is an MP of Bengaluru Rural constituency, initiated the process voluntarily in February 2017 by sending a note to the Deputy Commissioner of Ramanagar for granting 15 acres of land in Survey No. 283 of Nallahalli village of Kanakapura taluk, without any demand from the Christian community.
The PIL stated that in March 2017, the Trust submitted an application for grant of 10 acres of land at the behest of politician-brothers. Harobele village already has a church and there is no need for another church on a sprawling 15 acres of land with the tallest Jesus statue, as envisaged by DK brothers to create a vote bank, it said. The DK brothers were sowing seeds of religious disharmony by favouring a particular religion, the petitioners alleged.
“Without issuing a public notice for grant of land as per Section 17-A of the Karnataka Land Grant Rules, the Tahsildar submitted the report to the Deputy Commissioner that villagers have no objection for grant of gomal land. He also stated that there were no religious monuments on the said land, which is contrary to the claim made by D K Shivakumar that centuries-old Christian monuments were situated on Kapalabetta. The construction commenced after hurriedly obtaining permission from the local gram panchayat,” they said.
Pointing out that the Supreme Court has, time and again, held that public property cannot be permitted to be used by private persons, the petitioners have prayed the court to quash the order passed by the government to grant the land to the Trust with a concession of Rs 49.50 lakh at the behest of DK Shivakumar and also in violation of Forest Act and Environment (Protection) Act.