Chennai, Nov 1 (PTI) The Madras High Court Thursday ordered notice to the authorities on a PIL alleging structural changes to the ancient Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam, and seeking an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

A bench, comprising Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad issued the notice and posted the petition to November 19 for further hearing.

Rangarajan Narasimhan of Tirchirappalli-based ‘Sanathana Dharma of Sri Vaishnavam’ forum in his public interest litigation (PIL) petition alleged the board of trustees in collusion with the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department officials have misused powers and were disregarding the age-old traditions.

The petitioner also claimed that they had appointed a number of touts and made several changes to the structure of the temple, including the celestial body of the main deity, jeopardising its chances of being enlisted in the world heritage sites by the UNESCO.

He said the temple was the largest in the country and one of the largest religious complexes in the world and had been recommended in 2014 for UNESCO’s world heritage site tag.

Claiming that several structures had been demolished in recent past, the petitioner submitted such acts would wipe out chances of the shrine getting the coveted status.

The petitioner further said the trustees have been acting against ‘Vaishnava Sampradaya’ philosophy and the joint commissioner of the temple, who is also its executive officer, has been interfering in the religious affairs.

He said the high court had already in an order declared the executive officer as “unfit” yet he had been continuing in the post for the past four years while the HR&CE department usually transferred officials after two years.

Contending that no audit had been done in the temple after 2015 though the HR&CE Act mandated annual scrutiny, he urged the court to order an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India from 2000 onwards.

Also, the petitioner sought a direction for appointing a committee of experts for the temple from the fields of accounts, law, temple management and technology, headed by a hindu judge of the high court.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.