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Court recommends action against Melkote temple priest

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With the allegations of irregularities against Cheluvarayaswamy temple priest here involving precious stone-studded gold chains adorning the presiding deity having proven true, Assistant Commissioner's in Pandavapura has recommended strict disciplinary action against the priest.

The court in its recommendation recently regarding the four-year-old case cited dereliction of duty, breach of sanctity of temple and misuse of power against the priest Narasaraja Bhat, who was unable to justify the difference of about 800 gm of gold in the ornaments and submitted its report to the Deputy Commissioner recommending a COD inquiry to unearth the facts.

The report stated that the priest had given the physical measurements of the idol of the presiding deity to private firms, obtained gold ornaments from devotees directly, kept these in his house for four months, not maintained official receipts of jewel makers properly and evaded tax.

The Deputy Commissioner who received the report of the AC Court on May 18 sought legal opinion from the District Public Prosecutor, before sending a directive to the Melukote Temple Trust to take disciplinary action against the priest, based on the instruction from the Religious Endowment Commissioner.

The Public Prosecutor, upon studying the court order, besides recommending probe by a government agency like the COD, proposed suspension of the priest for six months, which is liable for further extension, in case the enquiry is not completed in time.

The Public Prosecutor held that the priest be suspended under Section 17(4) of the Religious Endowment Act, 2012.

Meanwhile, the Temple Executive Officer Venugopal said a decision will be taken regarding the suspension of the priest soon.

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