The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has directed the new management committee of the famous Saibaba temple of Shirdi not to take any policy decisions, sanction expenditures or make appointments till further orders.
A division bench of Justices R V Ghuge and S G Mehere passed the order on Tuesday while hearing a `civil application' of Uttamrao Shelke, who had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) about the temple trust's functioning some ten years ago.
The order became available on Wednesday.
Shelke's plea said that the Maharashtra government on September 16 this year appointed a new managing committee headed by NCP MLA Ashutosh Kale for the Shri Saibaba Sansthan which took charge from the next day.
But this committee was appointed without the high court's permission, Shelke's lawyer Pradnya Talekar argued.
In 2012, a committee comprising principal district judge, Ahmednagar district collector and CEO of the Sansthan had been appointed, and it was still in place, the petitioner said.
The state government appointed the new committee by including political personalities and without following any "transparent procedure" in violation of the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust Act, the plea alleged.
The high court noted on Tuesday that the state government had the power to appoint a managing committee but it could not have taken charge without the court's approval.
In 2012 the HC had appointed a committee and on October 9, 2019 it had "empowered the Committee to administer the Sansthan", the judges said.
In such a case, "prima facie, no other Managing Committee could have dislodged the Committee that we had constituted," the court observed.
The high court posted the matter for further hearing on September 23, and directed that until then the new panel "shall refrain from taking any policy decision, sanctioning expenditure and making any appointments or inducting any new members."