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State to finalise guidelines for Siddhivinayak Trust funds: HC

By Staff
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Mumbai, Dec 13 (UNI) The Bombay High Court today directed the Maharashtra Government to finalise the guidelines for using the Siddhivinayak temple's trust funds within six weeks.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice H S Bedi and Justice V M Kanade disposed the petition with the instruction that if the state failed to finalise the guidelines within the specified time period, then the court itself would come up with some alternative solution.

The court was told that the temple earned around Rs 15 crore through annual donations and the funds were being misused. There was political interference in allocating funds that were meant for charitable causes.

The state government is supposed to sanction the grant following recommendation from the temple trust's management committee empowered under the Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust Act of 1980.

However, the court, in 2004, had stayed disbursement of funds by the trust and set up a three-member committee headed by Justice (retd) V P Tipnis to probe alleged misuse of funds by the trust on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Kewal Simlani. The probe conducted by the Justice Tipnis committee on disbursal of surplus funds by Siddhivinayak Temple trust from 1999 named institutions linked to or directly controlled some former and current ministers.

''The most shocking aspect of the matter is that there is no method or principle followed for particular institutions. The only criteria for selection was recommendation or reference by trustees or the minister or a political heavy-weight, generally belonging to ruling party'' the committee said in the report submitted to the Bombay High Court.

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