HC brings breach of trust case back to Sivakanchi police for probe

Following a complaint from one Annamalai, the Sivakanchi police registered a case against Sthapathi (sculptor) Muthiah and Masilamani, an official of the Tamil Nadu government’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR &CE) department, Ekambareswarar temple Sthanikars and the Executive Officer in December 2017.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has brought back a misappropriation and breach of trust case involving crores of rupees and some idols, back to the Sivakanchi police over four years after an Idol Wing SIT had taken it up for probe.

Following a complaint from one Annamalai, the Sivakanchi police registered a case against Sthapathi (sculptor) Muthiah and Masilamani, an official of the Tamil Nadu government’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR &CE) department, Ekambareswarar temple Sthanikars and the Executive Officer in December 2017.

According to the complaint, the HR &CE Commissioner in December 2015 had issued an order for making a new panchaloha idol of ‘Somaskandar’ and ‘Sivagami’ with 5 per cent gold, 1 per cent silver, 12 per cent brass, 80 per cent copper and 2 per cent lead weighing a total 65 kilograms.

For making the two idols, 5.750 kg of gold, 1.8 kg of silver, 13.8 kg of brass, 91.35 kg of copper and 33 kg of lead were ordered. But it was misused by Sthapathy Murugesan, the temple EO and the Sthanikars Rajappan, Senthil, Krishnamoorthy, Sankaran, Bharath Kumar and Vinoth Kumar, the complainant said.

Both Muthiah, the Chief Sthapathy and Masilamani, the Sthapathy, came to the temple in December 2015 and collected crores of rupees and more than 100 kg of gold from the public without issuing receipts, according to the complainant.

Thereby they had committed fraud and breach of trust. The Somaskandar idol was cast without any gold by Masilamani. Further, the idols cast were not verified and brought on record as per Section 29(1)(d) of HR &CE Act, the complaint alleged.

Aggrieved, all the accused filed a batch of criminal petitions to quash the FIR in the crime.

Pursuant to an order passed by the Judicial Magistrate in Kanchipuram in November 2017, the case was transferred to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the High Court earlier in some other case, to investigate the idol theft cases.

Disposing of the criminal petitions, Justice G Jayachandran observed that though the courts earlier had reposed faith in the SIT at the nascent stage of the investigation and allowed it to probe by giving directions to the government and entrusted the cases, after four years of the pending investigation, the team had miserably let down the court which had a high opinion about its impartial investigating skill.

The re-investigation of the case shall be completed within 90 days and the final report shall be filed before the local magistrate, who transferred the matter to the SIT, the judge said.

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