The first bench of the Madras High Court has pulled up the Adhoc Board of Administrators of the Nagore Dargah in Nagapattinam district, who were appointed by the HC in 2017 to look after its affairs just for four months, but continued to function so, even after four years.
The bench of Chief Justice M N Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy, also accusing the interim administrators of unnecessarily spending Dargah funds, called for account statements relating to the income and expenditure of the Dargah.
The bench was dismissing recently a writ appeal from the Adhoc Board of Administrators, challenging the orders of a single judge passed in the first week of January this year.
The bench noted that the interim administrators, consisting of a retired IAS officer and a District Judge, were appointed in 2017 for a short period, but they are still continuing. The counsel representing them could not disclose the reason for filing of the appeal other than stating that the directions had been given by the court (single judge) without opportunity of hearing to the Adhoc Board of Administrators.
Originally, Muhalli Muthavalli H Haja Nazimudden Sahib of Nagore had filed a writ petition seeking permission to participate in the 465th Urs festival celebrated from January 4 to 17 this year. And the single judge on January 5 directed him to approach the Wakf Board, which ultimately rejected his plea citing Coronovirus pandemic. Hence, the present appeal.
Dismissing the appeal, the bench said that the period of the festival had already expired. However, the interim administrators filed the present appeal on February 4 from Dargah funds. “This is nothing but misuse of the position and funds of the Dargah by the Adhoc Board of Administrators. Merely because the Adhoc Committee comprises a retired IAS Officer and a retired District Judge, they cannot be permitted to misuse the funds,” the bench said.
The bench also took cognizance of the issue by itself to call upon the interim administrators to show cause as to why they should not be discontinued and why the management of the Dargah should not be directed as per the Rules or if mismanagement still exists, as to why they should not be substituted.
It also directed the counsel for the interim administrators to come up with a reply to the issue for justifying the continuance of the interim administrators for more than four years, though it was appointed only for the short period. They should come out with an affidavit qua the total expenses incurred by them in regard to the affairs of the Dargah and their own affairs, the bench added and posted the matter for further hearing on March 10 when the counsel shall furnish the statement of accounts and the expenses incurred by the administrators towards travelling and other purposes.
The bench added that the interim administrators should not operate the affairs of the Dargah. Rather, it would be managed by the Wakf Board. However, in case of any mismanagement by the Wakf Board too, the court may nominate a different Adhoc Board of Administrators, it said.