Madras HC takes serious view of idol thefts, warns of CBI probe
Chennai, July 12: Coming down heavily on the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department over idol thefts in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court today said if such a situation continued, it would be constrained to hand over all the related cases to the CBI.
Justice R Mahadevan said this while hearing a batch of petitions with regard to idol thefts in the state.
The judge, during the course of the hearing, took serious view of the news published in some newspapers with regard to theft of idols at the Annamalaiyar temple in Tiruvannamalai, said the court was seized of the matter.
Idol thefts have become regular in the state, the place where Saiva and Vaishnavaculture were born, he said, adding that it showed the sorry state of affairs.
If this situation continued, the cases will have to be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), he said.
Earlier, advocate 'Elephant' Rajendran, submitted that at a temple in Konerirajapalayam in Nagapattinam district, a big Nataraja Panchaloha idol and others were kept in a small room and two police personnel on security duty were withdrawn.
He claimed that an idol of Goddess Annapurani in the temple was also missing.
Rajendran also submitted that at a temple in Senthalai in Thanjavur district, there was not adequate safety where 30 Panchaloha idols, worth about Rs 700 crore, were kept.
Referring to a complaint by Rangarajan Narasimhan, a Sri Vaishnavite with regard to the theft of various doors and idols at the famous Sri Ranganathar Temple in Sri Rangam, the judge rapped the Government Pleader and asked why the HR&CE Department had not taken action on complaints received in this regard.
Pulling up the department, the judge asked if it was unable to safeguard and preserve the properties and idols in the temples why should there be a separate department in the state?
He posted the matter for further hearing to Friday.
The high court had, on June 27, made it clear that no one can interfere with the probe into idol theft cases in the state being carried out by a team headed by a senior IPS officer, Pon Manickavel, appointed by it.
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