Umakant Chaturvedi replaces scam-accused Ramakant Goswami as Mukut Mukharvind receiver

Senior advocate K.C. Gaur will take charge as the receiver of Shri Giriraj Hargokul Mandir.

Govardhan, 2021-08-08 (VT): The district court, on Saturday, appointed senior advocate and former secretary of the Bar Association, Umakant Chaturvedi as the receiver of Govardhan’s main Mukut Mukharvind Temple. Chaturvedi replaces Ramakant Goswami who was indicted in the much-publicised Rs.11 crore scam last September. Senior advocate K.C. Gaur will take charge as the receiver of the twin temple, Shri Giriraj Hargokul Mandir.

Ramakant Goswami and others named in the FIR were immediately removed from their respective roles in the temple management.

Both the new appointees were in Govardhan on Saturday. After performing worship rituals for Giriraj Maharaj and Mansi Ganga, they met with the temple sevayats and assured them and the devotees of running the temple operations with mutual support and agreement. The sevayats felicitated Chaturvedi and Gaur with a turban and garland as a token of respect.

Later in the day, former receiver Ramakant Goswami briefed them about the temple’s finances (earnings and expenditure), and fixed and movable assets while handing over all relevant documents as well as the portfolio.

The decision comes after the Allahbad High Court, on 13 July, dismissed Ramakant Goswami’s petition contending that since he was appointed receiver by the court, the administration does not have the right to investigate any matter pertaining to mismanagement of temple funds, and neither can the SIT file an FIR based on it.

The details of the Rs. 11 crore fraud in Govardhan’s Mukut Mukharvind and Hargokul Temples emerged in September 2020 during an SIT investigation, following which cases were registered against 12 people. Ramakant Goswami was named the main culprit.

Along with Goswami, Manu Ridhi, Bhandari Santosh Kumar, Ramkrishna Sharma, Radhakishan, Vivek Sharma, Pinto Saini and his wife Kamlesh, Lattu Saini, Bihari Lal Saini, Kokan Babu Mishra were accused of misappropriation of temples funds (daan-bhent), buying disputed property, and embezzlement of Vruddha Pension, Kanya Vivah and Chattrvritti funds.They were booked under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 420 (fraud), 409 (criminal breach by government servant), 408 (criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant), 423 (dishonest or fraudulent execution of deed of transfer containing false statement of consideration) and 120-B (entering into criminal conspiracy with common intention to commit fraud).

The trail of accusations goes back to May 13, 2018, when Delhi-based NGO Imperial Public Foundation had indicted then receiver Ramakant Goswami in Rs.17.65 crore fraud pertaining to the management and utilization of temple funds, particularly the overvalued purchase of ‘Khaas Mahal’ property. In 2011, Goswami had purchased the ‘Khaas Mahal’ property in Thakurji’s name for 2.7 crores. According to the FIR, this amount was nearly three times the market value (90 lakhs) of the land in 2010. Valuer Rajesh Dwivedi helped in forging the market value at 3.16 crores. Manu and Santosh Kumar were also involved. Another agricultural land was fraudulently bought for 40 lakhs. Goswami was also charged with buying other disputed property and issuing false checks to transfer money from temple account to his personal account and that of his accomplices.

Further, between the years 2014-2018 (2014-15: 48.35 lakh, 15-16: 1.40 crore, 16-17: 3.20 crore, 17-18: 2.24 crore), approximately 7 crore was utilised for temple decoration during ‘phool bangla’ season. This is when the cost of one ‘phool bangla’ is not more than Rs. 3500, yet flowers were purchased at 3-4 times the price by taking gardeners into confidence. The money was transferred to their accounts and commission was withdrawn later. Everyday temple decoration and services were similarly misrepresented in the accounts.

In June 2019, the administration had constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) which found the charges of 11 crore embezzlement to be true, subsequently bringing the scam to light.

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