Shirdi (Maharashtra), March 28 (IANS) Moving swiftly to meet a court deadline, the Maharashtra government has appointed a new board of trustees for a trust that manages the reverred Shirdi Sai Baba temple here.
The new panel replaces the old set, sacked earlier this month, an official said Wednesday.
The Bombay High Court had set a Wednesday deadline for forming the new Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST) board. It is ranked among the top five richest religious trusts in India with assets worth nearly Rs.20 billion.
Veteran Congress member Jayant Sasane, who was chairman in the outgoing board, has made a comeback to the post for another three years. Two other trustees have also been retained.
The other trustees include Ghanshyam Shelar, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, 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 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.
Judges Naresh Patil and T.V. Nalawade warned that unless the government appointed a new committee in 15 days, the court would hand over the SSST management to court-appointed administrators.
The order followed a public suit by social activist Sandeep Kulkarni who alleged that the SSST managing committee misappropriated funds worth Rs.2 billion.
The outgoing SSST managing committee's three-year tenure expired in 2007. But the government did not appoint a new one, allowing the trustees to continue with annual extensions, Kulkarni said.
The SSST is the governing and administrative body of the Shri Saibaba temple and all other temples in the premises. The temples reportedly collect around Rs.12.50 million a day in offerings and donations.
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