ALAPPUZHA: With the government deciding to bring in an ordinance to cut the term of Devaswom Boards from three to two years resulting in the imminent exit of Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president Prayar Gopalakrishnan and member Ajay Tharayil, the demand for appointing IAS rank officials in key posts to administer Devaswom Boards is in focus again.
Soon after the Cabinet passed the decision to recommend to the governor to bring in an ordinance, K.Raghavan, its member, who has one more year to go, welcomed the government's decision.
Vellapally Natesan, general secretary, SNDP Yogam, also said that it was a welcome step. "Now the government should choose wise persons to key posts. The face of the present administration is so ugly in the public especially since they targeted non-Brahmin priests', he said.
Shaji Sarma, president, Kerala State Devaswom Pensioners Confederation, says appointing honest IAS rank officials to the commissioner's post is the need of the hour since the TDB has witnessed a lot of changes in the structure including appointment of non-Brahmin priests. "The level of administration in TDB is still conservative and unprofessional. If IAS officers are given charge, the level of functioning of TDB would be better. Many of the IAS officers are not keen on the post because the system in TDB is corrupt', he says.
It was not long ago, fed up with complaints of dereliction of duty and rampant corruption among the TDB's top brass, the High Court suggested the government to appoint serving IAS rank officials in key posts to make functioning of devaswom boards smooth.
Presently, C.P. Ramaraj Prema Prasad, former law secretary, is continuing in the post of Devaswom commissioner after the High Court extended his term.
It was in 1991 the High Court broke the precedence of appointing the senior-most deputy commissioner as Devaswom Commissioner. By then, the post of chief engineer-cum- commissioner came into being. Though employees protested against it, the High Court bench led by justice Paripoornan ordered him to continue in the post for a year. Later in 1994 V.V. Vijayan, a retired IAS official, was appointed to the commissioner's post. He was the first person who became commissioner with an IAS background.
Later in 2013, former Alappuzha district collector P. Venugopal was posted to the commissioner's post. However, after his term ended in 2016, no other IAS official was keen for that post. Currently, the person for the commissioner's post is picked by the High Court from the list of candidates produced either by the government or board.