Tamil Nadu

Probe ordered into complaint of theft at Srirangam temple

The Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Idol Wing CID led by Inspector General of Police (IGP) A.G. Ponn Manickavel to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the missing of several precious artefacts from Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam in Tiruchi and file a detailed report in the court within six weeks.

Justices R. Mahadevan and P.D. Audikesavalu passed the order on a case filed by Rangarajan Narasimhan of Tiruchi. The petitioner had sought a direction to Idol Wing CID to book a case with respect to alleged theft of idols, doors made of exotic wood, many kalasams, sculptures and unblemished granite pavements from the temple.

During the hearing on Thursday, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department filed a counter-affidavit and stated that none of the artefacts listed by the complainant had gone missing from the temple and that all of them had been kept safely at the 1,000 pillar mandapam inside the temple premises.

The department also produced photographs to substantiate its claim. However, the petitioner, who argued the case on his own without engaging a lawyer, doubted whether those photographs had been shot at the 1,000 pillar mandapam and claimed that he never got to see any of those artefacts at the mandapam during his recent visit.

In his submissions, the IGP told the court that a preliminary inquiry conducted by his team so far had revealed commission of cognisable offences. Nevertheless, he had not registered a First Information Report (FIR) because the present petition seeking a specific direction to register the FIR was pending in the High Court. After hearing all of them, the Division Bench directed the IGP to continue with his inquiry, make personal inspections at the 1,000 pillar mandapam where the artefacts were reportedly kept safely and then file a detailed report in the court. Only thereafter, necessary orders could be passed in the case, it said.

Plea for early hearing

In the meantime, the judges also acceded to a request made by senior counsel B. Kumar for early hearing of an anticipatory bail application filed by industrialist Venu Srinivasan who was the chairman of the board of trustees of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. They directed the High Court Registry to list the petition for hearing on Friday.

In his petition, Mr. Srinivasan said he came to know of an FIR having been registered against him only through an affidavit filed by advocate ‘Elephant’ G. Rajendran in a case seeking to quash a Government Order issued on August 1 transferring investigation of all idol theft cases from the Idol Wing CID to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“The petitioner understands such an FIR has been registered with the first respondent (Inspector of Police, Mylapore, Chennai) and transferred to second respondent (Idol Wing CID). The petitioner begs to submit that he is innocent,” his petition read. He urged the court to grant him advance bail since there was a reasonable fear of arrest.

According to Mr. Srinivasan, his association with Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore was limited to the extent of having been a member of a committee constituted by the government in 2004 for conducting consecration of various temples in the State. Being a devotee, he had spent ₹70 lakh from his personal funds for the renovation of the Kapaleeswarar Temple.

“Beyond this, the petitioner has no other connection with the temple,” he said.

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2021 5:09:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/probe-ordered-into-complaint-of-theft-at-srirangam-temple/article24648127.ece

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