Shirdi temple: new trustees appointed
Shirdi (Maharashtra), March 28 (IANS) Moving swiftly to meet a court deadline, the Maharashtra government has appointed a new board of trustees for the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST) to replace the old set, sacked earlier this month, an official said Wednesday.
The government move to appoint the new board came late Tuesday night to stick to the Bombay High Court deadline of March 28 for forming the new body.
Veteran Congress member Jayant Sasane, who was chairman in the outgoing board, has made a comeback to the post for another three years, besides two other trustees who have been retained in the 17-strong SSST board.
The other trustees include Vice Chairman Ghanshyam Shelar, state cabinet minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil as well as Surendra Kharde, Rajendra Pipada, Snehalata Kolhe, Ajit Kadam, Patingrao Shelke, Minnath Pandey, Namdeo Gunjal, Sumitra Kote, Suresh Wadhwa and Vilas Kute.
The other three names are likely to be announced shortly, an official from the SSST said.
On March 13, the Bombay High Court's Aurangabad Bench sacked the 18 members of the Shirdi-based SSST, jolting the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party controlled body.
The division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice T.V. Nalawade had also warned that unless the government appointed a new committee within 15 days, the court would hand over the SSST management to court-appointed administrators, sending shockwaves in the ruling Democratic Front coalition.
The court order came in a public suit filed by social activist Sandeep Kulkarni, who alleged that the SSST managing committee misappropriated funds worth Rs.2 billion, among other things.
The present SSST managing committee's three-year tenure expired in 2007 but the state government failed to appoint a new committee, allowing the trustees to continue with annual extensions, Kulkarni said in his petition.
Ranked among the top five richest religious trusts in the country with assets worth nearly Rs.20 billion, the SSST is the governing and administrative body of the world famous Shri Saibaba's samadhi temple and all others temples in the premises, and devotes itself towards development of Shirdi village and surroundings.
The official said, on an average, the temples collect around Rs.12.50 million per day in offerings and donations.
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