One of the most bitterly fought legal battles in the history of the Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) mutt has just got uglier. A court commissioner, acting on a judicial directive to recover relics belonging to the community’s Kashi Mutt Samsthan from an erstwhile junior swamiji, on Tuesday drew a blank after breaking open the doors of the residence of the former pontiff at Elamakkara in Ernakulam district of Kerala.
A Tirupati court had directed the commissioner to break open the doors of the residence of Raghavendra Thirtha Swamiji, formerly the junior swamiji of the Kashi Mutt Samsthan, to “search and recover” relics and jewellery belonging to the Samsthan.
The court officials found that the former swamiji had decamped with the relics despite the Tirupati court issuing an order restricting him from moving out of his Elamakkara residence. It had also
directed him to return the ‘Parikaras’ of the Samsthan to the senior swamiji. The Parikaras include about 234 pieces of jewellery, 27 idols and nearly 50 silver articles along with more than 100 saligramas.
Shivananda Pai, resident of Ernakulam, was given Sanyasa Deeksha in the year 1989 and named as Raghavendra Thirtha. In 1994, some rituals at Sri Kashi Mutt Samsthan were entrusted to him by his senior swamiji Sudhindra Thirtha who was also the matadhipathi of Sri Kashi Mutt Samsthan, Varanasi.
The junior swamiji later disassociated himself from the Mutt due to a misunderstanding with his guru and took away with him the Parikaras belonging to the Mutt.
In 2000, Raghavendra Thirtha filed a declaratory suit at Tirupati claiming that the Matadhipathya (total control of the Samsthan) of the Samsthan, stating that the senior pontiff had abdicated the Matadhipathya in 1994.
The fourth additional district judge of Tirupati dismissed the suit on January 28, 2009, with a mandatory injunction to return all the deities and paraphernalia of Sri Kashi Mutt Samsthan to Sudhindra Thirtha Swamiji within a month of the order.
A petition seeking a stay on the order was dismissed by the Andhra Pradesh high court. The Supreme Court of India also confirmed the same on December 2, 2009.
Sudhindra Thirtha Swamiji had initiated proceedings for execution of the order before the Tirupati court, which had passed the decree.
But Raghavendra Thirtha avoided notices and thereafter he was compelled to appear in the execution side, as directed by the high court of Andhra Pradesh. The execution of this order was passed on to the Ernakulam district court in the presence of the commissioner appointed by the Andhra Pradesh high court.
The first additional district judge of Ernakulam issued delivery warrant and appointed KR Mohanan as advocate commissioner to supervise the execution.
In accordance with the Ernakulam district court order, the commissioner appointed by the court along with the court processor and the representative panel of Sudhindra Thirtha Swamiji entered the premises of Raghavendra Thirtha at Elamakkara with police protection.
The raiding party was told a follower of the swamiji that the seer was on yatra and he did not know the pontiff’s whereabouts.
During the operation, the court officials found that the relics listed by the court and Raghavendra Thirtha were not found, which has been viewed as contempt of court.
According to court officials, the court will now be liable to file a habeas corpus in the name of the swamiji.