HC gives nod; Dharma Sthabanam to move Supreme Court

The Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) department took over the administration of the Sri Jalakanteswarar Temple inside the historic fort here on Saturday.

This follows a government order dated June 18 and the proceedings of the HR & CE Commissioner P. Dhanapal issued on Friday, asking the Assistant Commissioner (AC), HR & CE, Vellore, to take over the administration of the temple and assume charge as ‘Thakkar’ (Fit Person) of the temple.

Parivallal, AC, HR & CE, Vellore, on Saturday morning pasted a notice on the temple premises, declaring the temple takeover. He also sealed the temple hundials.

He told The Hindu that when the department took over the temple in 2003, the Sri Jalakanteswarar Dharma Sthabanam, which is managing the temple affairs, obtained a stay from the Madras High Court.

However, the court in December 2012 upheld the takeover.

The Dharma Sthabanam went on appeal again, but the Division Bench of the High Court ruled in favour of the department last month.

S. Suresh, Dharma Sthabanam secretary said the Sthabanam would challenge the order in the Supreme Court.

The temple has had a chequered growth over several centuries.

It was without the presiding deity for the last 400 years after devotees removed the deity to a safe place in Sathuvachari here in the wake of vandalism. It was brought back in a procession by devotees in the early hours of March 16, 1981 and installed in its original place amidst opposition from the Archaeological Survey of India, which has been maintaining the fort and the structures within it. Respecting the feelings of devotees, the ASI renovated the temple at a considerable cost.

Late A.K. Seshadri, the then Senior Conservation Assistant of ASI played a significant role in the renovation. The ASI continues to maintain the temple structure while the religious activities are managed by the Sthabanam.

There were no regular poojas in the temple for many years. The poojas began in the 1980s only after its consecration. Subsequently, the government ensured that there would be kumbabhishekams at regular intervals. A kumbabhishekam was held last year also.