Corruption worth crores from Vitthal Mandir, Pandharpur by Govt appointed committee uncovered

Impose severe punishment on corrupt individuals; liberate Pandharpur temple from Government control ! – Varakari organisations & Hindu Janajagruti Samiti

Mumbai : It has come to light that the Government appointed Committee of Shri Vitthal Rukmini Temple at Pandharpur, which is a Deity of worship for entire Maharashtra has indulged in a huge misappropriation of funds while managing the wealth of the temple during last few years. Hindu Lawyers Forum, which is striving for securing just rights of Hindus has collected hundreds of papers as a proof of corruption by the Committee with the use of Right To Information (RTI) Act. It is pertinent to note that all these papers are based on the audit reports submitted by the Temple Committee itself. These papers expose the corruption concerned with hundreds of acres temple land, funds collected as donations worth crores of rupees, ornaments costing lakhs of rupees, wealth of cow-lineage etc. Similarly, there are serious anomalies in the financial working of the temple funds. (The statement narrating the details of this misappropriation is enclosed herewith.) In this matter of corruption, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti has decided to undertake agitations all over the State to press for stringent action against corrupt persons and liberating Pandharpur temple from the clutches of the Government. Varakari organisations and other organisations having similar objectives should participate in these agitations being conducted at various places. Such an appeal was made today by Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Varakari organisation. On this occasion, Shri. Shivaji Vatkar, Coordinator of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti for Mumbai, H.B.P. Bapu Maharaj Raokar of Rashtriya Varakari Sena, Adv. Sanjeev Punalekar, national secretary of Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad and Shri. Uday Dhuri of Mandir Mahasangh were present.

From Left : Dr. Uday Dhuri, H. B. P. Bapu Maharaj Raokar, Adv. Sanjeev Punalekar, Shri. Shivaji Vatkar

Take stringent action against corrupt individuals ! Otherwise, will knock on judicial doors !

Government should appoint a judicial inquiry commission to enquire in details into the misappropriation indulged by the Temple Committee, in the funds of Shri Vitthal temple at Pandharpur and lodge criminal cases against the guilty persons responsible for corruption in temple scam by arresting them as soon as possible. The properties of the guilty office bearers of the Temple Committee and its employees should be confiscated, and the amount involved in the scam should be recovered by disposing the above properties. If the Government does not take any cognizance of the matter, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti has made preparations to fight in the court of law through the medium of Hindu Lawyers Forum.

Corruption increased due to take over of the temple by the Government; corruption also has the blessings State Government !

Maharashtra Government has taken over Shri Vitthal temple in Pandharpur, in the year 1985 in order to provide better amenities to the devotees and established a Committee for management of the temple by appointing trustees, office bearers, managers, employees etc. on this committee. The misappropriation in the temple started increasing only after the formation of this Committee, and the corruption reached extremely high proportion during last few years. It is pertinent to note that this corruption by the Temple Committee was regularly being noticed by the Government through Annual accounts statement; however, by neglecting this scam, the State Government provided protection to the corrupt persons and committed a breach of trust of the public. The objective of the Government in appointing a single auditor from Pandharpur itself for carrying out audit of temple accounts for last 10 years is definitely not above suspicion. Varakari sect and faithful devotees of Deity Vitthal will punish the rulers for committing sin of robbing the wealth of Deity Vitthal.

Hand over Shri Vitthal temple at Pandharpur to Varakaris immediately !

All the temples taken over by the Maharashtra Government belong to Hindus only. When Bharatiya democracy is run through secular principles, taking over only Hindu temples is an exercise in trampling the secular principles. Therefore, the Government should immediately dissolve the Government appointed Temple Committee of Shri Vitthal temple and hand over the temple to Varakaris, who are devotees of Deity Vitthal ! Congress Government takes only Hindu’s temples and does not touch religious places such as Churches, Masjids belonging to other sects. In order to convey such a partial treatment of the Government to Hindus at the lowest level and create awareness in Hindus, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti will educate the people.

Details of corruption from Vitthal Mandir, Pandharpur by Govt appointed committee

Shri Vitthal Rukmini Temple at Pandharpur, a Deity of worship for entire Maharashtra, was taken over by the Government in the year 1985 vide ‘The Pandharpur Temples Act, 1973’ under the pretext of mismanagement and corruption by the then management of the temple. However it was noticed, that over the last decade the Government appointed committee itself indulged in financial mismanagement of temple funds on a large scale. Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad, which is striving for securing just rights of Hindus, used the Right to Information Act (RTI) to collect hundreds of papers as a proof of corruption by the Committee. As a result, we are demanding, through this memorandum, that the Government should take serious cognizance of mismanagement by ‘Shri Vitthal Rukmini Temple Committee’. (Note: Selected papers indicating misappropriation are enclosed below for your kind information.)

Examples of corrupt practices of the Temple Committee !

1. No records are maintained with respect to account and receipt books.
2. Serious objections raised by the auditors in the audit report are being blatantly overlooked.
3. The Temple Committee has conveniently avoided the common practice of having entries made by one employee, cross checked by another. As a result, ‘Internal Audit’ to check the above system was not at all carried out.
4. Lakhs of rupees are spent every year for maintenance of cattle (belonging to the temple); however, the account related to wealth of cattle and income generated from cattle is missing. Only receipts of sale of cattle are recorded.
5. The expenditure over 48 lakhs (FOR WHAT?) was not at all audited by the auditor.
6. The electricity bill for the tenants of the temple from the year 2007 to 2010 is paid by the temple itself.
7. Signatures of the cashier, accountant or concerned responsible officers on the important documents such as, notebooks, vouchers for expenditure of lakhs of rupees are missing; such mistakes are observed in many instances.
8. The articles donated by the devotees are directly put to use. No checks are carried out as to what happens to such articles in the future.
9. There is no record with the Committee in respect of articles received from donations or purchased. Therefore, such transactions are not reflected in the balance sheet.
10. No acknowledgements are obtained from employees as a proof of salary payments.
11. Since the year 2004, Committee has advanced unnecessary amounts to the employees. Therefore, the auditor has raised an audit paragraph ‘The advances paid to the employees should be immediately recovered, and no advances should be paid to them’.
12. The auditor has raised the objection that the Committee has incurred investment during the year 2001 to 2005 over the aims and objectives, which were not under the purview of the Committee.

Sin committed by Temple Committee : Financial scams !

1. Embezzlement in donation receipts ! : The receipts used for collection of donations received daily at ‘Donation Counter’ do not bear serial numbers. Similarly, the receipt books are not used sequentially. As a result, the Government Committee has raised the remark ‘No exact details of daily receipts are available with the Temple Committee’. This will give the idea of the extent of corruption.

2. Embezzlement in weighing the ornaments : Though it is a binding to get the gold and silver ornaments (donated by the devotees to the temple) evaluated by the official Valuer, Temple Committee has not followed the system. Similarly, the list of articles collected by the temple during the year 2000-2001 does not mention the cost of 1450 mg. of gold. Many such records are not noticed by the auditor nor any cognizance is taken by the Government.

3. Negligence shown towards the hundreds of acres of land belonging to the temple and the income which could have been generated through it ! : As per the land records, the temple has about 1220 acres of land in its possession; however, this land is neither under the control of the Government, nor in the name of the temple. What happened to this land? Considering the monetary value of 1220 acres of land, the Temple Committee has not taken any action except performing clerical routine work, to take the land in possession, renting this land for tilling, or recovering rent of land given on hire for tilling. As a result, the temple has lost income worth lakhs of rupees.

Great sin committed by temple committee in selling temple cattle !

Since the nourishment of cattle is religiously important, it is binding on the Temple Committee from the religious viewpoint to nourish the cattle in the cow-shed of the temple without the expectations of deriving any profit; however, the Temple Committee has sold the cattle for Rs.1,43,000/- between 2000 and 2010. News items have appeared that some of the cattle have been sold to the butchers, and complaints have also been lodged accordingly against such practices.

Treachery of Temple Committee towards Deity Vitthal !

1. Donation from donation boxes (Hundipeti) kept in the gunny bags instead of a bank ! : The amount donated by the devotees unto Holy feet of Deity Vitthal with total devotion needs to be counted every day and deposited in the bank. In December 2011 and January 2012, no time was spared to count the amount collected in donation box, and hence, it was stored in gunny bags. The amount misappropriated from this collection is beyond surmise. As per the procedure, it is necessary to open the donation box in the presence of everyone, and deposit the collected amount in the bank after conducting its panchnama.

Even during the audit, the objections were raised by the auditor over serious anomalies such as not conducting Panchnamas of donation box amount appropriately and absence of signatures of the concerned individuals on the panchanamas.

2. Loss to the extent of lakhs of rupees towards rent of ‘Bhakt Nivas’ (Lodge for devotees) not being accrued as per expectations ! : Temple Committee has taken on rent a building from Maharashtra Tourist Development Corporation (MTDC) at the rate of  rupees 8 lakhs per year; however, since the building is not being utilised properly as expected, temple had to incur losses amounting to Rs.47,97,716/- between 2000 and 2010. On one hand, Varakaris and devotees do not find accommodation for lodging, and on the other, Temple Committee lets the rooms of ‘Bhakt Nivas’ remain vacant. This issue is unpardonable.

Serious anomalies in the audit of Temple Committee

1. No audit was conducted for the accounts department of Temple Committee from the year 2010 and also no firm action was taken by the Government regarding this lapse of duty.

2. Even after the orders were issued by the Government, the Temple Committee failed to submit ‘Action taken report’ over the anomalies found in the audit.

3. Though it is compulsory to transfer Government employees every 3 years, the Government auditor of the Temple Committee has been retained for last 10 years and he belongs to Pandharpur only.

Why are the Temple Committee and Government inactive towards lack of facilities in pilgrim centre Pandharpur ?

1. No ban is still imposed on the sale of alcohol and non-vegetarian food in Pandharpur.

2. Just demands to provide various facilities such as toilets, clean drinking water, broad roads etc. in Pandharpur and on the path of Vari for the convenience of Varakaris remained unfulfilled till today.

3. No efforts are taken to maintain hygienic conditions in the Vitthal temple and its surroundings.

4. Government has not taken any steps to prevent discharge of drainage water and polluted water from industries in the river Chandrabhaga, and to prevent the water from stagnating. As a result, it has become almost impossible to have a holy bathe in the river.

5. Maharashtra Government allots land and finances to build ‘Haj House’; however, it does not make efforts to build ‘Varakari Bhavan’ at Pandharpur and rest houses on the paths of Vari.

On the whole, Maharashtra Government is also equally responsible for the mismanagement and corrupt practices of ‘Shri Vitthal Rukmini Temple Committee’ because the Law and Justice Department of the Government, which is responsible for controlling the Temple Committee never made any suggestions to the Committee nor called for the Annual accounts statements of the Committee for examination ! Therefore, the Government should prove its noble intentions by applying same rules to the Temple Committee, which were earlier being applied in case of the devotee run Temple Management Committee (now defunct).

In order to conduct detailed inquiry into the mismanagement of the Temple Committee, the Government should appoint a judicial enquiry commission and immediately file criminal cases against individuals responsible for embezzlement of temple funds. Properties of the guilty office bearers of the Temple committee and temple employees should be attached, and the entire amount of scam should be recovered by disposing the said property. The management of the temple should be handed over to the devotees of Deity Vitthal. We are demanding, through this memorandum, that these steps be taken. If immediate action on these demands is not taken, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti will be constrained to resolve seeking justice through legal and fierce public-agitations.

Documents indicating misappropriation

Downloads (All information is in Marathi language. Only Audit Report is in English)

Answer to RTI query by Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad

Observation report by Officer of Vitthal Mandir Committee

Pamphlet exposing misdeeds of Vitthal Mandir Committee published by HJS

Sample report of Audit of Vitthal Mandir Cimmittee


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