The Allahabad High Court has stayed fresh appointment on the post of president of Kashi Vishwanath Temple’s board of trustees while taking cognisance of a petition filed by Acharya Pandit Ashok Dwivedi, who was removed from the post on May 6 by the state government on charges of irregularities.
After going through the submissions of the petitioner, the court gave time to the state counsel to seek instructions from the government and fixed May 18 as the next date of hearing. The order was passed on Wednesday by a division bench of Justices Dilip Gupta and Vinod Kumar Misra.
Swetashwa Agarwal, counsel for the petitioner, told the court that under Uttar Pradesh Kashi Vishwanath Temple Act-1983, later amended as Uttar Pradesh Sri Kashi Vishwanath Temple (Amendment) Act-2003, the president cannot be removed without being issued a showcause notice. Also, there are only two grounds for removal of the president, on medical grounds and corruption.
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“Our contention is that the petitioner was not given any showcause notice,” Agarwal added.
Senior Counsel Ravi Kiran Jain also submitted before the court that on April 1, a communication was sent to the president from the office of Principal Secretary (Religious Affairs) Navneet Sehgal — who is also the chairman of the board of trustees. “The communication was sent only for having discussions with regard to the affairs of the temple and was not a showcause notice,” the court noted.
When contacted, Dwivedi said: “I cannot understand this decision. One of the grounds of my removal is that I have not been able to hold meetings. I have submitted before the high court the total number of meetings I have held since I became the president.”