October 7, 2021 1:00:22 am
The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on Monday said that the new managing committee of Shri Sai Baba Sansthan in Shirdi, which was recently appointed by the Maharashtra government, would officially take charge on October 19.
The court said that its interim order passed on September 21, asking the new committee to refrain from taking policy decisions, will continue for another two weeks.
Meanwhile, it asked the principal district judge (PDJ) of Ahmednagar, who is chairman of the ad hoc committee appointed by it in 2012, to hold a meeting of the ad hoc panel in coordination with the chief executive officer (CEO) of Shirdi Sansthan Trust to ensure smooth opening of the temple on October 7.
A division bench of Justice Ravindra Ghuge and Justice Sanjay G Mehere was hearing civil applications in a public interest litigation filed by Uttamrao Shelke.
Shelke told the HC that the state government had appointed a new managing committee for the Sansthan, chaired NCP MLA Ashutosh Kale, through a September 16 order, and that the committee took charge on September 17. He claimed that the committee members should be placed under scanner for “grave illegalities in their selection and nomination”.
Advocate Pradnya S Talekar, representing Shelke, referred to an October 9, 2019 HC order, which had noted that the court in 2012 had appointed an ad hoc committee to supervise, monitor and look after the financial affairs of the Sansthan. The committee comprised the PDJ, Ahmednagar collector, Sansthan CEO and a delegate not below the rank of the assistant charity commissioner, Nashik. The HC had then said that the ad hoc committee will function till the state constitutes a new panel.
Shelke argued that the new committee could not have taken charge ex-parte, showing utter disregard and disrespect to the HC order of 2019, as the same could not be appointed without the court’s approval.
Senior advocate R N Dhorde, appearing for Maharashtra government, said that as it has set up a new committee, the grievance in the 2019 PIL has been addressed and the same be disposed. He added that challenge to the constitution of the new committee is a different cause of action and the same can be done through a fresh petition. Following this, HC permitted Shelke to file a new plea.
Dhorde said that the state has announced the temples, shrines and religious places will open for devotees from October 7. He added that the committee will have to take several decisions to ensure that footfall of devotees is monitored to prevent any “untoward situation”.
The HC said that the newly appointed managing committee would officially take charge from Ahmednagar PDJ on October 19. The bench also disposed other civil applications with a rider that all issues raised in them may be taken up by the new committee after October 19, subject to there being no legal impediment.
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