With temple trustees wanting custody of cash-rich Janardhana temple, locals have launched a signature campaign in Udupi urging the government to not denotify the historical Janardhana and Mahakali temple of Ambalpady from the list of muzrai temples, and to keep it a public property, reported the Deccan Herald.

The Rajya Dharmika Parishad, functioning under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department, invited objections/suggestions from the public regarding the petitions.

In 2014, the city civil judge of Udupi had ruled that Janardhana temple (also known as Ambalpady) is a public temple, triggering the hereditary trustees to move court seeking custody of the shrine. Reportedly, the government’s decision was upheld by the court then, with petitioners moving the High Court where the case is still pending.

The petition for denotification of the temples from the muzrai list has also been filed for three other temples — the Ananthashayana temple, Karkala; Mahalingeshwara temple, Surala, and Vishnumurthy temple, Majur, Kapu.

The Rajya Dharmika Parishad, headed by the muzrai minister, has a two-member tribunal where all Hindu temple-related legal matters are referred. Formed after amending the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997, according to Section 68 of the Act, no civil court is allowed to deal with temple matters, reported DH.

Based on this amended law, the hereditary trustees moved the Parishad’s tribunal seeking custody of the temple. This sparked a protest among the locals who then began the signature campaign.

“With temples coming under the purview of the Parishad, the demand is renewed. We will continue to resist the takeover of the temple as it is a public-funded one,” Advocate Bhaskar Shetty, one of the signatories, said. The Parishad’s notification seeking public opinion was issued on January 18 and the last date for receiving petitions from the public was February 28.