The Department of Religious Endowment has instructed the Melkote temple trust to initiate disciplinary action against Narasaraja Bhat, Cheluvarayaswamy temple priest, in connection with the four-year-old ornament misuse case.

Sources in the department said that officials recently directed the trust to take action against Mr. Bhat “as per the recommendations of the Assistant Commissioner’s court in Pandavapura”. In addition to misusing the ornaments, Mr. Bhat is also facingcharges such as dereliction of duty, breach of sanctity of temple and misuse of power. The charges that Mr. Bhat “received gold ornaments as gifts from devotees and took them home” were proved during the inquiry. According to sources, he also took away parts of gold ornaments, resulting in them weighing less.

The Assistant Commissioner’s court had ordered disciplinary action. However, the trust, instead of implementing the court order, had submitted a report to the department, the sources said.

Recently, Deputy Commissioner B.N. Krishnaiah also instructed CEO of the Sri Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple trust to initiate action against the priest.