HC seeks State’s stand on PIL seeking Shrine Board for Machail Mata

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, May 30: In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking constitution of Shrine Board for Machail Mata and Special Investigation Team to look into the financial irregularities and assets of Sarv Shakti Sevak Sanstha, Division Bench of State High Court comprising Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Sindhu Sharma today asked the State to clear its stand on constitution of new Shrine Board or transfer of management of temple to any of the already existing boards.
After hearing Advocates Aditya Sharma and Sumit Nayyar for the PIL, the DB observed, “in the status report filed by the Divisional Commissioner Jammu dated 23.04.2019, it has been stated that a sum of Rs 40 lakh is required for clearance of pending liabilities and another sum of Rs 99 lakh is required for managing the Yatra which is likely to commence in the last week of July 2019”.
DB further observed, “from the perusal of the details we find that sum of Rs 12 lakh has been shown as arrears of monthly honorarium or salaries to be paid to the staff of Sarv Shakti Sevak Sanstha and Bhartiya Shiksha Niketan School”.
On this Advocate Abhinav Sharma appearing for the respondents submitted that the salaries and honorarium, if have to be paid, should be properly accounted for. “The liabilities may be cleared subject to the condition that in case ultimately it is found that the employees of the school were under the control of respondent individually and not with the Sarv Shakti Sevak Sanstha, the liability to pay the amount will fall on respondent and not on the Sanstha”, he further submitted.
Keeping in view this fact, DB authorized the Divisional Commissioner Jammu to withdraw Rs 12 lakh from the accounts of the Sanstha for clearance of liabilities on account of honorarium of staff of Sarv Shakti Sevak Sanstha and also for payment of honorarium /salary to the staff of Bhartiya Shiksha Niketan School.
“Estimate of Rs 99 lakh has been given to be spent for making arrangements for Yatra commencing in the last week of July. Different heads have been provided where the money is to be spent. We do not wish to go into the details, hence, allow the amount to be withdrawn”, the DB said, adding “it is the responsibility of the Divisional Commissioner to count for each and every penny spent after withdrawal of amount from the account of the Sanstha for proper audit after the Yatra concludes”.
DB further directed that proper care shall be taken for counting entire donations andofferings, either in cash received or kind, from the pilgrims in the temple and in donation boxes enroute the Yatra. “Some responsible officer should be appointed to account for the same periodically as per the requirements”, the DB added.