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Appoint Vitthal-Rukmini temple committee by June 30: Bombay high court to Maharashtra govt

Mumbai city news: HC also said the appointment of the 10 pujaris made by the two-member ad-hoc committee shall also be treated as temporary and ad-hoc.

mumbai Updated: Jun 28, 2017 01:10 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,Maharashtra govt,Bombay high court
The Bombay HC division bench was hearing petition filed by a devotee.(HT FILE)

The Bombay high court has directed the Maharashtra government to constitute the Vitthal-Rukmini Temple Committee by June 30 , to manage the affairs of the famous temples at Pandharpur in Solapur district.

The division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice AK Menon was hearing petition filed by a devotee , Valmiki Chandane, complaining about the appointment of ten pujaris by the ad-hoc committee nominated by the state government for administering affairs of the temple trusts.

Chandane had challenged the validity of the decision of the ad-hoc committee to appoint the 10 pujaris to perform puja in Vitthal-Rukmini temples at Pandharpur and had sought their removal alleging various illegalities. The 10 pujaris were appointed by the ad-hoc committee in August 2014.

The Solapur resident had also sought a direction to restrain the ad-hoc committee – comprising the collector, Solapur and sub-divisional officer, Pandharpur — from taking any major policy decisions as regards to temple trusts till a permanent committee as contemplated under section 21 of the Pandharpur Temples Act, 1973 was appointed by the state government.

He had also sought a direction to the state government to forthwith appoint a permanent committee as envisaged under section 21(1), which contemplates a 12-member committee comprising devotees of lord Vitthal and goddess Rukmini from Maharashtra. The committee includes the president of the Pandharpur Municipal Council as ex-officio member of the committee.

The high court noticed that the Supreme Court has upheld validity of the Pandharpur Temples Act, 1973 in January 2014, but the state government has not constituted the committee as envisaged under section 21(1) of the Act. “The committee ought to have been appointed within a reasonable time at least from the date of the judgment of the apex court as there was no impediment whatsoever in the way of the state government exercising the power under Subsection (1) of Section 21 of the said Act,” said the bench.

“Unless the state government constitutes a Committee as contemplated by Subsection (1) of Section 21 of the said Act of 1973, the very purpose of enacting the said act will not be fulfilled,” said the bench while directing the government to set up the committee by June 30.

It has also clarified that the appointment of the 10 pujaris made by the two-member ad-hoc committee shall also be treated as temporary and ad-hoc.

First Published: Jun 27, 2017 00:56 IST