Madurai: A petition has been filed in Madras High Court seeking removal of controversial godman Nithyananda as the head of Madurai Adheenam, the oldest Saivite Mutt in south India.

The petition filed by an advocate and an orator at the Madurai bench of the high court, seeks a directive to the HR&CE Board Commissioner to permit them to file a suit in a subordinate court for the removal of Nithyananda as head of the Mutt.

In their petition, orator Nellai Kannan and advocate V P Ganesan, said Nithyananda was not qualified to become junior head of the Adheenam, which was in existence for over 1,500 years and had a great tradition.

His appointment had come as 'a bolt from the blue' for the Vallala community, who are Saivites and emotionally attached to the Mutt, they said.

They contended that Nithyananda had not followed any of the steps required traditionally to head the Mutt,one of which was to acquire a certain type of 'sainthood.'On attaining this status,he should visit all Shiva temples and be made 'Kattalai Thambiran' (personal assistant to the priest) after the latter felt he had acquired sufficient knowledge in Saiva tenets.

He would later be given blessings with mantras and adorn vedic beads and renounce all worldly connections. He would then be given a 'Spatika Lingam (linga made of precious stone) which he should worship daily.

Pointing out that only a Kattalai Thambiran should be made the junior pontiff, they said the Madurai Adheenam could have got someone from other Adheenams and not Nithyananda, against whom there was a pending case in Califorinia on alleged misappropriation of funds and cheating.

The petitioners said one leading an immoral life or in a manner likely to bring the office of the Head of the Adhennam into contempt could be removed from the post as per the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act. Nithayananda was absent from the Mutt for three months when he faced criminal cases and arrested in Bangalore, they said.

After claiming to be head of Bidadi Mutt near bangalore, he could not assume charge of Madurai adheenam, they said.

Even at Madurai Adheenam, he had not followed tradition of keeping women devotees "at a respectable distance" from the premises and allowed them inside, they said.