The Madras High Court on Thursday slammed the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department and warned them of severe action if they failed to produce documents in connection with the case of a missing peacock idol at a Chennai temple. The bench hearing the case came down strongly on the Department after it admitted that all documents in connection to the idol were destroyed.
In August 2018, a petitioner named Rangarajna Narasimhan had approached the court with a writ petition alleging that the peacock statue that originally existed in the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore represented Goddess Parvati doing puja for Lord Shiva. The peacock, he claims, had a flower in its mouth. It was however, allegedly, replaced in 2004 when TVS Motors Company Chairman Venu Srinivasan was part of a government committee responsible for conducting the Kumbhabhishekam in the temple.
The statue currently present in the temple, has a snake in its mouth, according to the complainant. The idol wing then began an investigation into the case where members of the HRCE Department were interrogated and asked to submit documents in connection with the statue to analyse if it has indeed been replaced.
"The Idol Wing asked for the records of this statue and the HRCE Department replied saying that documents in connection to the statue have been destroyed. The court has now given them one week to produce the records," says Ashok Natarajan, ADSP of the Idol Wing. "We gave a copy of their reply to the court. Investigations are still underway in the case. We will wait for their reply next week to see how we can take the matter further," he adds.
The Madras HC bench comprising Justices Mahadevan and Audikesavalu, however, were shocked by the HRCE Department's stand on the matter. They condemned their reply and have given them a week to produce relevant documents. The court further warned them of severe action if it’s proven that the documents were truly destroyed. The judges pointed out that this was a severe allegation which will lead to serious consequences. They further added that the counsel for the HRCE Department had claimed earlier that they had the necessary documents.
"This is clearly an effort to protect the bigwigs involved in this case including Venu Srinivasan," says the petitioner, Rangarajan. "By destroying documents they have erased crucial evidence regarding the replacement of the statue. This letter that the Idol Wing has produced is an indication of the HRCE's Department's role in this scam," he alleges.