The Kerala High Court has directed the vigilance wing of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) to ascertain whether there were any lapses in the counting of donation packets and currency notes at Sabarimala Sannidhanam during the two-month long pilgrimage season and file a report.
A bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajithkumar issued the direction in the wake of news reports that due to non-counting of money in offering or donation packets, the currency notes in the same became soiled and unusable.
The court had also called for a report from the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala regarding the counting of ‘Kanikka’ (donations/monetary offerings) at the hilltop shrine during the ongoing pilgrimage season which will conclude on January 19 and the temple will be closed on January 20.
In his report, the Special Commissioner has said that during the current festival season, huge quantities of currency notes and coins were offered as ‘Kanikka’ by devotees at various offering boxes at Sabarimala Sannidhanam.
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”Though counting of currency notes, and packets containing offerings is going on at the new Bhandaram (coffer) and the old Bhandaram, it is anticipated that the counting of coins which are put in three large heaps in the new Bhandaram and will not be over even after the temple closes after Makaravilakku festival on January 20.
”Due to lack of space, counting of coins was being carried out in a portion of the Annadhana Mandapam also,” it said.
The Special Commissioner also told the court that he would be carrying out an inspection of the currency counting and submit another report on the present stage of the process.
The TDB had on January 13 said Rs 310.40 crore was generated by the shrine till January 12, as part of the 2-month-long annual pilgrimage season.
”Out of the Rs 310,40,97,309, a total of Rs 231,55,32,006 was received during the ‘mandalam’ season which ended on December 27 and Rs 78,85,65,303 was generated during the ongoing ‘makaravilakku’ festival which began on December 30,” the Board had said.