To nominate two members each

The State government will in all probability go ahead with the reconstitution of the Travancore Devaswom Board and the Cochin Devaswom Board, with the Cabinet nominating two members to each, and then go by the court decree if the ordinance promulgated for amending the Travancore Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act comes in for judicial scrutiny.

Though the Left Democratic Front (LDF) has come out vociferously against the ordinance, the government is understood to have made a firm resolve against repealing it and reached a consensus on reconstituting the Boards.

Official sources told The Hindu here on Friday that one of the two members to be nominated to a board by the Cabinet would be made its president. On forming a board, the government would issue a notification for posting the returning officer for conducting the election of the third member from the constituency of Hindu MLAs.

The notification will essentially include the condition that voting for electing the member belonging to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes will be restricted to Hindu MLAs who have faith in God. Those legislators will have to furnish an affidavit that they profess faith in God.

This provision is against the spirit of a ruling of the full Bench of the Kerala High Court in 2007, and the LDF constituents have said that they will take legal recourse to settle the issue. But even if the election is challenged, the president and the lone member will be able to run the administration of the board without a hitch.

Under the Act, presence of the president and one member satisfies quorum for administering the board. In the event of a dispute between them, the president has the power to exercise casting vote and his or her decision will prevail.

Since the LDF does not have scope for getting its nominee elected and the president and the member will be the nominees of the Cabinet, it is presumed that differences of opinion leading to an administrative stalemate are unlikely to crop up. The Opposition will have to wait till the court passes its verdict on the ordinance to send its representatives to the boards.

Subsequently, the government will go ahead with the constitution of an exclusive recruitment Board for the Devaswoms. Even if the initial proceedings are initiated soon, its formation and framing of rules are reported to be time-consuming and hence completing the entire processes in a time-bound manner is not easy, sources said.

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