HC rejects idol wing IG’s plea against HR&CE probe

Chennai: The Madras High Court Friday rejected Idol Wing IG Pon Manickavel’s plea to stall the HR&CE department’s internal inquiry against its officials, allegedly involved in theft of idols, and said both the inquiries by the department and the wing can go on simultaneously.

A special division bench comprising Justices R Mahadevan and P D Audikesavalu stated this while dealing with a batch of cases related to idol theft cases. Manickavel submitted that the Idol Wing was experiencing impediments in continuing its probe because of the parallel inquiry by the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments department.

Objecting to this, senior counsel for the department submitted that there is a general misconception about the inquiry. “This is an intra-departmental inquiry which is required when officials of the department face charges,” he said.

The inquiry has just begun and even the charge memos have not yet been issued, he added.

To this, the bench said the inquiry by the department was purely internal and would not affect the Idol Wing police probe.

Earlier, there was a plea to restore idols secured in idol centres across the state to the respective temples. The HR&CE department opposed the plea, saying it would be a great burden on the Idol Wing. The department also said that necessary ‘poojas’ as prescribed in the ‘aagamas’ were conducted for the idols in the centres and that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) itself had opined against shifting some antique artefacts and pillars to temples in the interest of the structural safety of the ancient temples.

Advocate ‘Elephant’ G Rajendran, one of the petitioners, submitted that about 62 idols secured in one such icon centre were found to be fake and stressed on verification of all such idols by the ASI. Recording the submission, the bench noted that the issue is prevalent in all the icon centres and verification must be done in all such centres.