Kerala High Court on Friday referred a slew of writ petitions challenging handing over of Rs 5 Cr from Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee (GDMC) to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) for Covid-19 relief works to a full bench, which is hearing similar petitions that were filed earlier with the HC.
The court also said that the final order on latest writ petitions would be subjected to the order of the full bench which is hearing similar petitions that were filed challenging similar donations made by GD in the past to the government from the offerings made by devotees at the Lord Sri Krishna Temple in Guruvayur.
It is to be noted that the standing council of GD stated during the hearing in HC on Friday that the Devaswom had no further plans to handover similar donations from the funds of GD to the state government and it was recorded by the court.
BJP state secretary A Nagesh, Hindu Aikya Vedi state general secretary R V Babu, former assistant manager with GD Mohankumar B along with others had filed writ petitions with HC demanding stay on transfer of Rs 5 Cr from GD to CMDRF.
Earlier, after the historic floods in 2018, GD had handed over Rs 5 Cr to the state government for flood relief measures. This decision too had sparked off controversy and protests.
The premises of the argument put forth by all the petitioners who approached HC of Friday demanding the stay was that such hefty contributions made by the GD to the state government were in violation of Guruvayur Devaswom Act 1978 which says that any expenditure incurred by the GDMC, should be for the benefit of the Devaswom alone.
A. Nagesh said that the Rs 5 Cr handed over to Thrissur District Collector S. Shanavas by GDMC chairman K B Mohandas on May 5 could only be used on the basis of the final order to be issued by the HC’s full bench.
“Court has take decision of Friday that is tantamount to a stay. There were several previous orders issued by HC, especially by the one issued by a five-member bench in the case regarding Tharammel Krishnan Vs. GDMC which clearly says that income derived from the endowments given by devotees should only be used with respect to the matters connected with the temple and diverting the funds for any other purpose is illegal,” one among the petitioners Mohankumar B said.
Meanwhile, chairman of GDMC Mohandas KB said that he was yet to get the official court order on latest writ petitions filed on Friday and there was no stay order issued regarding the recent transfer of Rs 5 Cr to the state government as donations from GD for Covid-19 relief works.
“Our standing council has told the court that there was no move to handover more funds to the government as donations,” Mohandas said.
Mohandas had earlier courted controversy by saying that people from other religions were also giving offerings at the temple and hence the funds with Devaswom did not belong to Hindus alone.
“UDF convenor and Chalakudy MP Benny Behanan had recently conducted Thulabharam for himself outside the temple. There are also counters at the West Nada of the Lord Sri Kishna temple where people from other religions also pay for offerings. I did not say that huge amount of money received by GD was due the offerings made by members of other religions,” he added.
However, all the petitions are of the opinion that even though there are provisions for non-Hindus to offer money at the temple without entering it, the money the temple/GD received from them as offering is quite negligible.
“By citing such small offerings made by non-Hindus, the GDMC could not handover crores of rupees from Devaswom to state government,” they noted.