HC orders annual appraisal of jewels held by major temples

Directs HR&CE department to appoint adequate appraisers to inspect all temples

Published - March 19, 2019 01:34 am IST - CHENNAI

The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department to appoint sufficient number of jewel appraisers and ensure that they visit all major temples in the State once a year to take stock of the jewels and other valuables owned by those temples. Justices K.K. Sasidharan and P.D. Audikesavalu issued the direction on a public interest litigation petition filed by S. Pakshi Sivarajan, a resident of Rameswaram.

The petitioner had sought a probe into alleged theft of a diamond Thali, nosepin, necklace, head drop and other jewels from the Ramanathaswamy Temple.

Denying the allegation, the temple management told the court that the jewels were appraised in 1950 and once again in 1978 and that no jewel had been stolen or missing.

When the judges wanted to know why no appraisal had been carried out since 1978, the court was told that it was because of the post of Appraiser was lying vacant.

Taking serious note of the submission, the judges ordered annual inspection of the jewels of major temples in the State and maintenance of jewellery registers. “The jewellery register should be verified by the Appraiser every year. The register must contain the signature of the Appraiser and the Joint Commissioner/ Executive Officer of the concerned temple.”

“Whenever there is a change of Joint Commissioner/Executive Officer, the register shall be updated and it should be signed by the relieving officers and the incoming Joint Commissioner/Executive Officer. The entire property of the temple, both movable and immovable, should be accounted for,” the Division Bench said.

In so far as Ramanathaswamy Temple was concerned, the inventory must be taken on or before May 31.

“The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department must fix responsibility on the concerned Executive Officer and the officers of the temple in case it is found that valuables are lost or its value is diminished in any manner,” the Court ordered.

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