Peacock idol theft: HR and CE dept, panel told to submit probe report in six weeks

The first bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice PD Audikesavalu passed the direction while hearing a plea by Rangarajan Narasimhan, who prayed for a direction to the government to recover the missing idol.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

Chennai

The Madras High Court on Monday directed the police and the fact-finding panel of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department constituted in 2018 to probe the theft of a peacock idol from Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar temple and submit reports within six weeks.
The first bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice PD Audikesavalu passed the direction while hearing a plea by Rangarajan Narasimhan, who prayed for a direction to the government to recover the missing idol.
Advocate General R Shunmugasundaram submitted that a former investigating officer, Idol Wing IG had requested the department and a division bench of the court not to commence the probe by the fact-finding committee. But the bench rejected it and directed the probe and present the panel’s report.
Meanwhile, the petitioner sought a direction to replace the correct peacock idol in place of the missing one. The original idol had a peacock with a flower in its beak, which was replaced with one that had a snake-like thing instead of flower. “This is against Agama rules and violation of the very right of the devotees to worship the god,” Narasimhan submitted.
When the bench asked the AG why should government not install the correct idol, he said it would be looked into if the petitioner gave the photograph of the missing idol. However, Narasimhan opposed this, stating that a report by the Archaeology Survey of India in 1996, which has the details of the missing idol, should be with the HR&CE department.
Recording his arguments, the bench asked the department to submit a report within two weeks indicating its view on installing a replica of the peacock idol with flower in its beak, and also directed the police as well as the fact-finding panel to submit their reports about the theft within six weeks.

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