FIR Against Mahantesh, a Fearless Journalist

An FIR has been registered against G Mahantesh, a renowned journalist for using the picture of a pontiff of the Murugha Matha (monastery) in Chitradurga.

An FIR has been registered against G Mahantesh, a renowned journalist for using the picture of a pontiff of the Murugha Matha (monastery) in Chitradurga, in one of his reports. The journalist had brought to light the allegations of rape made by a woman on the officer of the Matha. This detailed report by Mahantesh carried evidence.

Speaking to the journalist said, ‘I  shall clarify as to why I used the picture of the pontiff. The administrative officer along with three other officers of the Matha have been accused in this case. The woman in her complaint has noted that the pontiff of the Murugha Matha is fully aware of the harassment. As the chief pontiff of the Matha is the highest authority of the Matha, I decided to symbolically use the picture of the pontiff. The Matha has lodged a complaint against me and a FIR has been registered.’ 

The pontiff of the Murugha Matha had called for a press conference following the registration of FIR against the officer. Addressing the media the Matha had said, ‘we had decided to free the Matha from the practice of appointing blood relatives to the positions. We have received resignations of ten of the officers already.’

‘Reporting this press conference,’ Mahantesh explained, ‘in a story that I wrote I observed that the pontiff was not successful in answering questions that the registration of this case had given rise to. Other than this I had also reported the recent allegations of financial mismanagement within the Matha and the court notice issued to the Matha in this regard. This reportage has not gone well with the Matha and thus in their press note, I have been called a mysterious man.’

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The journalist stated that he has evidence supporting his reportage. He has already written to Press Council of India complaining about the registration of a FIR against him; he will be complaining to the Journalists’ Union in Bangalore. 

Reportage by Mahantesh on Murugha Matha

On February 6, 2021 Mahantesh wrote an article titled, ‘Rape Allegations: The Court Refuses to Give Bail to the Brother of Murugha Matha’s Pontiff.’  A thirty two years old teacher had registered a complaint against M G Doreswamy, CEO of the Matha. The complainant had noted that the accused had promised to getting married to her and had raped her (this FIR has disappeared from the public domain). Doreswamy had filed an application for bail in the Court. The Court had rejected this application. 

Mahantesh had reported this rejection. This report carried the copies of Court’s order and the complaint. The complaint also mentions the names of A J Paramashivayya, the secretary of Sri Jagadguru Murugha Rajendra Matha University; N Gangadhar, a legal adviser of the Matha; M T Mallikharjuna, a chief of the local Jangama Samaja. The FIR states that these three individuals have threatened the complainant. Finally the complainant has also noted that she had brought this incident to the notice of the pontiff of the Matha

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FIR has been now registered against Mahantesh for using the pontiff’s picture in this story. 

On February 16, 2021 Mahantesh published a story titled, ‘Rape Allegation Against the Brother, the Pontiff Finally Breaks Silence’. This story is a report on the press conference called by the pontiff on February 15, 2021. 

According to this report, the pontiff in a short press conference of four minutes had said that Murgha Matha had a rich history. He had further said, thousands of people work in an organisation. There would be differences of opinion but no form of misbehaviour on anyone’s part would be tolerated. He had concluded the conference saying that those who had misbehaved had been punished and they were made to resign. Several questions remained unanswered in this press conference and Mahantesh had asked those questions in his report. The report carried detailed information about the family of the pontiff and about the accused. 

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On February 24, 2021 a story titled ‘Financial Mismanagement: The Court Issues a Notice to the Pontiff of Murugha Matha’ was published by Mahantesh. This story had brought to light a complaint registered against the pontiff accusing him of mismanging funds of the Matha. The complainant also had accused the pontiff of not following the rules and regulations of the Matha. This report had carried the copy of the complaint. 

Several people in the state are arguing that Mahantesh’s reporting about the Matha has irked the Matha which has now registered a FIR against the journalist. A pressure for withdrawal of the FIR is building up on the social media. 

First published in and translated by Yogesh S 



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May 2024


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