Idol theft case: HC shocked at destruction of records

Court says those involved must be taken to task

November 02, 2018 01:37 am | Updated 07:43 am IST - CHENNAI

A view of Sri Kapaleeswarar Karpagambal temple in Mylapore. File

A view of Sri Kapaleeswarar Karpagambal temple in Mylapore. File

The Madras High Court was on Thursday shocked to hear about destruction of records sought by the Idol Theft Wing - Criminal Investigation Department, from Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department in connection with the alleged theft of an idol of a peacock from Punnaivananathar Sannidhi in Kapaleeswarar temple at Mylapore.

A Division Bench of Justices R. Mahadevan and P.D. Audikesavalu were taken aback when government advocate P. Kritika Kamal informed the court that the HR & CE officials had been giving “evasive replies” to requests made by Idol Theft Wing to part with the documents and recently they had claimed that all those documents were destroyed.

Serious issue

“How the documents can be destroyed? Who destroyed them? When were they destroyed? This is a very serious issue. Everybody responsible for this must be taken to task,” the senior judge in the Bench said and directed Inspector General of Police A.G. Ponn Manickavel to proceed further and find out the truth behind the claim of destruction of documents.

Affirms charges

The judge also said that the missing documents only end up affirming the allegations of writ petitioner Rangarajan Narasimhan that the original idol of the peacock carrying a flower on its beak had been shifted out of the temple during its consecration in 1994 and replaced with an identical idol of the bird holding a snake on its beak.

“It amounts to impersonation of idols. Lakhs of devotees have been worshipping fake idol for the last 14 years,” the petitioner said and urged the court to order installation of a new idol after following the rituals as per agamas .

However, the judges replied that such an order could not be passed until the alleged theft was established conclusively with evidence.

In her submissions, Ms. Kamal said that apart from probing the issue of destruction of records, the investigating agency was also taking steps to recover the original idol.

The IG told the court that the records had been destroyed systematically.

“They have worked on a Saturday and Sunday to destroy them. We have issued summons to them for inquiry,” he said.

After hearing them, the judges directed Special Government Pleader M. Maharaja representing HR & CE department to get instructions from the officials concerned on the issue by November 15.

They adjourned a host of other idol theft cases, including anticipatory bail petitions, filed by businesspersons Ranvir R. Shah and Kiran Velagapudi by a fortnight.

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