KERALA

Devaswom Ombudsman moots Vigilance probe

N.J. Nair

Selection of priests and transfer of officers by TDB



Ombudsman writes to the Kerala High Court

Minister asks Commissioner to freeze the rank list



THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Ombudsman for the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) has mooted a probe by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) into the recent selection of priests and transfer of administrative officers to key posts in major temples.

Ombudsman R. Bhaskaran, in a letter to the High Court, has said that TDB’s selection of ‘shantis’ (priests) had kicked up a row.

Allegations

There are allegations that the son of a union leader had been awarded the first rank in the selection list.

Out of 320 applicants, the TDB interviewed and selected 204 candidates and prepared a list.

But there are complaints that the list was not published on time and that some of the candidates got the details of the rank list and the score sheet in advance.

In the wake of the charges, Devaswom Minister G. Sudhakaran had asked the Devaswom commissioner to freeze the list.

He had requested Mr. Bhaskaran, who is also a former judge of the High Court, to conduct an inquiry into the allegations and not to appoint anyone from the list.

Government stand

Mr. Sudhakaran had stated that the government would not allow corrupt practices in the TDB and would take action against the guilty.

Mr. Bhaskaran, in his letter, has said the TDB itself had decided not to enforce the list immediately and ordered an inquiry by the Devaswom vigilance wing.

“It may be considered whether the inquiry by the Devaswom vigilance will be effective to book the real culprits,” he said.

Transfers

Corruption charges have been raised about the transfer of administrative officers. Complaints have been raised about allowing appeals on the transfer of administrative officers.

“It may be considered whether the Vigilance Department (VACB) must be entrusted with the inquiry against the allegations of corruption with regard to the transfer of administrative officers also,” he said.

Seeks directive

Mr. Bhaskaran has sought a direction to the Director of Vigilance to file the report before the court within a specific timeframe and keep the appointment of priests in abeyance till the matter is resolved by the court.

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