Temple in legal tussle

2010-01-25 00:00

THE leadership of the historic Shri Vishnu Temple in Pietermaritzburg has been interdicted from implementing proposed amendments to the temple’s constitution until proper notice has been posted or hand-delivered to all its known members.

According to the order, obtained in the high court in Pietermaritzburg on Friday by members D.H.P. Nagasar and Chan Bridgemohun, at least one month must pass from the date of a posting or delivery of notice before steps can be taken to implement any amendments.

Nagasar, the former president of the temple, was expelled in 2007 over allegations of misappropriation of funds, but he states in an affidavit before the high court that he has been cleared and that the Director of Public Prosecutions has declined to prosecute him.

His application to be reinstated as president is pending in the high court, and Nagasar said he believes the proposed far-reaching amendments to the temple’s constitution were drafted in response to that application, and in a bid to disqualify him from office.

For example, one amendment that has been proposed requires an honorary life member, like himself, to renew his application for membership annually. This could deny him membership “at the whim” of the leadership.

Cited as respondents in the application are joint secretaries of the temple, Davesh Jugmohan and Vikash Maharaj, current president Bhairo Maharaj and the Shri Vishnu Temple itself.

Nagasar said he and Bridgemohun became aware of the proposed amendments to the constitution only on January 12. The temple leadership had called a general meeting, scheduled for yesterday. It was expected that they would attempt to implement the proposals at this meeting.

“The intention is to practically rewrite the constitution,” he said.

Nagasar said not enough notice has been given to members, who will be expected to vote, and many are unaware of the meeting and the proposed amendments.

Nagasar submitted that the “indecent haste” with which it was sought to implement the proposals was “calculated to avoid open and democratic debate”.

 

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