[Kapaleeswarar Temple Idol Theft] Madras HC summons HR&CE Commissioner to explain undue delay in probe completion

  • Salil Tiwari
  • 05:23 PM, 27 Jan 2022

Into the case of the disappearance of a statue of a peacock from the Arulmighu Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, Chennai, the Madras High Court today directed the Commissioner of Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department to appear before the court next week, to explain the undue delay in completion of the fact-finding inquiry.

The bench of Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu has asked the Commissioner to elaborate as to why the probe into the theft was not pursued and completed on time although the department had initiated the fact-finding inquiry in the year 2018.  

This development has taken place after the high court had sought a status report of the fact-finding inquiry and the investigation into the matter on January 19. 

Today, the Idol Wing-Crime Investigation Department (CID) submitted before the court that 90% of its investigation is over and the final report will be filed in three to four months. It has been hinted that the needle of suspicion currently points towards the then HR&CE Assistant Commissioner.

The Peacock Idol

The case is linked to the alleged theft of an idol of a peacock from Punnaivananathar Sannidhi in Kapaleeswarar temple in the year 2004. The allegation is that the original peacock carrying a flower on its beak had been shifted out of the temple during its consecration in 2004 and replaced with an identical idol of the bird holding a snake on its beak.

Thereafter in August 2018, a petitioner named Rangarajna Narasimhan had approached the court with a writ petition alleging malpractice by the Temple officials as appointed by the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department of the State.

The idol wing then began an investigation into the case where members of the HRCE Department were interrogated, however, the case has not come to a conclusion yet. 

Case Title: Rangarajan Narasimhan v. The Board of Trustees And 6 Others