Tamil Nadu

‘Come up with roadmap to recover stolen idols, jewellery, artefacts’

The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department to coordinate with the State government and come up with a roadmap to recover ancient idols, jewellery and other artefacts reportedly missing from several temples in the State.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy ordered that an affidavit should be filed in the court within two weeks indicating the steps proposed to be taken by the department. The interim order was passed on a public interest litigation petition filed by R. Venkataraman of Nesapakkam, Chennai.

During the course of arguments, the judges concurred with the petitioner that national treasures could not be allowed to be looted and smuggled abroad. They directed the HR&CE Commissioner to locate the temples from where idols, jewels and ancient artefacts were missing and take appropriate action to retrieve them.

The petitioner submitted that the HR&CE department had commenced a mega exercise in November 2020 for creating a database with respect to 42,155 temples under its control for filing a report in the court in reply to a suo motu public interest litigation petition taken up in 2015 for preserving the heritage temples.

During such exercise, some of the temples were found ‘missing’ and some were in very bad condition without even the Moolavar (presiding deity). He also claimed that some of the temples were visited by the HR&CE officials for the first time in last 60 years. In few other temples, the registers regarding their movable and immovable properties were missing.

Accusing the officials of having failed to lodge police complaints in this regard, he claimed that the officers, instead, began preparing new registers reflecting the present condition of the temples. The litigant also alleged that copies of the original master registers of some temples were missing even from the office of the HR&CE Commissioner.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 7:43:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/come-up-with-roadmap-to-recover-stolen-idols-jewellery-artefacts/article33621582.ece

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