The Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust may have got respite from the Supreme Court from the demolition of its Rs 6 crore wall around it for protection, but the huge amount spent on construction of the barrier has invited another round of litigation in the Bombay High Court.
Social activist Kewal Semlani has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking an investigation into the amount spent on the wall construction by the high court appointed advisory committee in 2004 which is headed by retired Justice VP Tipnis.
Apart from the expenditure, the entire decision making process culminating in the construction of the wall around the temple and also installation of security equipments needs to be scrutinised, states the PIL.
A wall at the cost of Rs 6 crore was constructed around the Siddhivinayak Temple in last April following security threats to the temple.
The PIL questions whether the transparent procedure was followed by the Management Committee of the temple when deciding to spend the amount. Did the Management Committee prepare a detailed estimate report about the material and equipments to be used along with the labour and other costs. Also, was the contract awarded after issuing public notice and inviting tenders for the construction of the wall.
Besides, the present Management Committee should be dissolved and fresh committee be appointed, prays Semlani in his petition.
The HC had appointed a committee headed by retired Justice Tipnis following a PIL alleging irregularities in the management of temple funds by some of the trustees. In order to keep a close check on the funds distributed by temple trusts and to avoid irregularities, the HC had directed the Maharashtra Government last year to frame guidelines to control, monitor and for transparent assessment of the trust functioning.
The Maharashtra Government is in the process of drafting the Temple Trust Act to keep a check on private temple trusts.
After the PIL filed by Semlani in 2004, the HC had frozen temple trust account and directed the temple management to seek permission from the court before using any money from the trust fund.
The PIL filed in 2004 had alleged that there are several irregularities in disbursement of the Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust funds. The funds were allocated to institutions and organizations that were either set up or were run by the persons in government offices. Also, the committee set up to sanction the donations contained members appointed by the certain government officials, who colluded to systematically alienate funds of the trust.