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Sabarimala: Kerala HC Directs Devaswom Commissioner To Act Against Employees Who Skipped Special Duty During Pilgrimage Season

Hannah M Varghese
5 Jan 2022 4:47 AM GMT
Sabarimala: Kerala HC Directs Devaswom Commissioner To Act Against Employees Who Skipped Special Duty During Pilgrimage Season
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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday ordered the Devaswom Commissioner to institute disciplinary action against employees of the Travancore Devaswom Board who failed to report for special duty at Sabarimala, Pampa and Nilakkal.While issuing the directive, a Division Bench of Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice P.G Ajithkumar recorded that it is the surplus income from the Sabarimala Temple...

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday ordered the Devaswom Commissioner to institute disciplinary action against employees of the Travancore Devaswom Board who failed to report for special duty at Sabarimala, Pampa and Nilakkal.

While issuing the directive, a Division Bench of Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice P.G Ajithkumar recorded that it is the surplus income from the Sabarimala Temple that aids the functioning of over a thousand other temples under the Board:

"The reluctance shown by the employees of the Travancore Devaswom Board in reporting for special duty during Mandala-Makaravilakku season at Sabarimala, Pamba and Nilakkal cannot be viewed lightly." 

The Court also directed the Devaswom Commissioner to obtain the names and take action against the staff in the establishment wing and class-4 employees who failed to report for special duty, except on genuine medical grounds.

"On receipt of reports from the concerned Assistant Devaswom Commissioners, the Devaswom Commissioner shall initiate appropriate proceedings against the staff in the establishment wing and class-4 employees, who failed to report for special duty at Sabarimala, Pamba and Nilakkal, other than on genuine medical grounds, and the action taken shall be reported to this Court."

The Bench was adjudicating upon a report filed by the Sabarimala Special Commissioner pointing out the deficit of employees at Sabarimala Sannidhanam, Pamba and Nilakkal.

In December 2021, it had asked the Commissioner to depute 20 additional staff from the establishment wing and 200 additional class-4 employees for special duty. It had further ordered that in case any of the employees deputed for special duty are reluctant to join other than on genuine medical grounds, they shall be proceeded against by initiating disciplinary proceedings.

The report filed by the Special Commissioner pointed out that the turnout of employees posted during the festival season was far less than what was ordered by the Court. The Special Commissioner emphasised the importance of having the necessary staff during the pilgrimage season- to count the accumulated currency notes and coins in the Bhandaram of Sabarimala Temple, at least 100 Class-4 employees from 19 groups of Travancore Devaswom Board are required.

The report also claimed that out of the said 100 Class-4 employees, at least 80 employees are required just to clear the counting of pending and accumulated currency notes and coins in the Bhandram.

The Court noted that as per the Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions Act, 1950, the Devaswom Board is duty-bound to monitor whether the administrative officials and the employees, and also the employees connected with religious rites, are functioning properly.

Therefore, it was found necessary to take action against employees who failed to turn up for special duty, especially during the festival season when a large amount of revenue is generated which supports other temples as well.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 4

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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