Temple dispute heads to court

2008-07-04 00:00

Former president of the Shri Vishnu Temple in Pietermaritzburg, Dayal Harry Persad Nagasar, has applied to the high court to review and set aside the decision by the temple and its executive to expel him in August 2007.

In court papers, Nagasar also disputes the findings of an auditor’s report requiring him to explain "certain missing monies".

Cited as respondents are the joint secretaries of Shri Vishnu Temple, Vikesh Maharaj, S. Harridave and (the newly-elected president) B.N. Maharaj, who have given notice of their intention to defend the application.

A court date is yet to be set.

Nagasar submits his expulsion as both a member and as president of the temple should be declared invalid on several grounds. These are that the executive meeting and the executive who expelled him were not correctly called nor constituted correctly and the meeting was allegedly not recorded correctly.

He also maintains that he was not given an opportunity to present his "side of the story", was never charged with any offence nor was his alleged misconduct made known to him.

He says he has obtained an independent analysis of the auditor’s report, which contradicts the findings of that report.

Nagasar said he was a member of the temple for many years and had been president for "some years" when he was expelled.

He said he received a letter dated August 7, 2007 signed by then vice-president B.N. Maharaj and Vikesh Maharaj informing him of his expulsion.

The letter cited the seriousness of the offences committed (outlined in the auditor’s report), his "non-satisfactory" explanation and the interests of the temple, its membership and community at large.

Nagasar said he noted an appeal on August 21 and informed the temple that he was "disputing" his expulsion.

He alleges that a meeting to discuss his expulsion was called "behind his back", and also disputes that it was correctly called and/or constituted.

The auditor’s report alleged that certain monies were missing and that he was required to explain this.

"At no stage was I required by the executive or the council to appear before anyone or to provide an explanation thereto," he said.

He said he was also never charged with misconduct.

"I submit the respondents are incorrect in their view that they can expel a member if there are allegations without charging him or granting him a right of hearing."

The leadership dispute first came under the spotlight in court last October when prominent trustee Haripal Maikoo and council member Chan Bridgemohan applied to set aside the election of new office bearers, claiming that proceedings at a special general meeting in September were irregular and invalid.

In replying papers, then interim president Bhairo Maharaj alleged that Nagasar was expelled due to overwhelming evidence of "discrepancies in the manner in which the financial affairs of the temple were being conducted" and said criminal charges had been laid.

He alleged the court case was a bid to have Nagasar reinstated as president by people who had allegiance to him. This was denied by Maikoo.

The case was subsequently settled out of court and a meeting was held in April at which new office bearers were elected, including B.N. Maharaj as president.

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