In a reprieve to idol wing CID and Inspector General of Police Pon Manickavel, probing cases of thefts of antique idols from temples, the Madras High Court Monday directed the Tamil Nadu government not to take any adverse action against him or his team without its permission.
A special bench of justices R Mahadevan and P D Audikesavalu granted the relief to Manickavel, who apprehended some adverse action from the authorities on the eve of his retirement.
Manickavel is due to retire on November 30.
"They were conducting some probe behind my back and trying to fix me in some sort of allegation," Manickavel, who was present in the court, said.
Considering his apprehension, the bench directed the government lawyers present to inform the authorities that no action should be taken in connection with the issue without placing the relevant records before the court.
No officer was empowered to pass any order without the permission of the court, the bench said.
The court had quashed the transfer order of Manickavel from the idol wing and directed him to constitute a team and continue with his probe into the cases.
The bench made the oral order while hearing four anticipatory bail applications moved in connection with idol theft cases by various people, including TVS group chairman Venu Srinivasan and Tamil Nadu chief "sthapathy" M Muthiah.
It then reserved its order on all the applications.
On the issue of destruction of documents pertaining to "kumbhabhishekams" conducted at the Kapaleeswar temple, from where an antique peacock idol was missing, the court directed the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department to file its submission through an affidavit Wednesday.
Earlier, the department had submitted that the documents were destroyed according to the government manual.
The HR&CE department said not all documents would be preserved by it for ever. The manual prescribed a time limit for each category of documents after which they would be destroyed, its counsel said.
To this, the bench asked whether the department could affirm that the documents were not destroyed recently after the court proceedings.
The counsel submitted that the documents were destroyed in 2009 and 2013.
On November 1, the court had warned the HR&CE department of serious consequences if it was proved that the documents related to an idol at the temple here were destroyed.
The matter relates to a petition filed by Rangarajan Narasimhan, seeking a direction to conduct a "kumbhabhishekam" by installing a new idol of the peacock at the temple.
He had submitted that the idol of a peacock holding a flower in its beak was missing for long and now, there was an idol of the bird holding a snake in its beak, which was against the "agamas" (traditional codes for temples).
On September 18, the bench had sought to know why the "archakas" (priests) of the temple had not brought the replacement of the idol to the knowledge of the government.
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