The Madras High Court on Friday quashed a Tamil Nadu government order transferring idol theft investigations in the state to the Central Bureau of Investigation, reports said. The judges said the government’s order, issued on August 1, was a “colourable exercise of power to circumvent the high court’s orders”.

Advocate “Elephant” G Rajendran and activist “Traffic” KR Ramaswamy had challenged the government’s order through separate public interest litigation pleas.

The court also ordered Inspector General of Police AG Ponn Manickavel to continue as the head of the Idol Theft Wing of the Criminal Investigation Department. Friday was scheduled to be Manickavel’s last day as special officer. Justices Mahadevan and PD Audikesavulu announced their decision to extend Manickavel’s tenure a day after the state government announced Additional Director General of Police Abhay Kumar Singh would succeed him, The Hindu reported.

Case involving TVS Motor chairperson

The court’s decision comes two days after it granted anticipatory bail to TVS Motor Chairperson Venu Srinivasan in connection with an idol theft case, PTI reported.

The Mylapore Police has accused Srinivasan of replacing an antique peacock idol at Chennai’s Sri Kapaleeswarar temple with a new one. The matter came to light after a devotee named Rangarajan Narasimhan filed a complaint. The case was later transferred to the Idol Theft Wing of the Criminal Investigation Department.

In his anticipatory bail plea, Srinivasan claimed innocence and said he had spent around Rs 70 lakh in 2004 to restore the temple.