SC asks Orissa govt to depute full time administrator for Shri Jagannath Temple
The Supreme Court Monday directed the Orissa government to depute a chief administrator for managing the affairs of ancient Shri Jagannath Temple at Puri and passed a slew of directions for enabling peaceful 'darshan' by devotees and providing amenities for them. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said "considering the overall situation and the facts, we direct the State Government to depute full time Chief Administrator, not by way of additional charge forthwith".
A large number of pilgrims visit the temple every day and it is a pious duty to provide proper 'darshan' in systematic manner and to take care of the aged, the infirm and children, the top court said. "We direct the temple administration and the chief administrator including the state government to prepare a roadmap with the help of experts for having proper darshan by the devotees/pilgrims and to implement it effectively and to ensure that there is no commotion so that everybody is able to have darshan peacefully without any obstruction by anybody," the bench also comprising Justices M R Shah and S Ravindra Bhat said.
The bench said that it is for the experts to suggest what system can be devised without disturbances to the rituals to be performed in temple and passage required for it and thereafter temple management committee and administration have to consider it. It also took serious note of certain incidents which have been pointed out in the report relating to the misbehavior with the women, snatching of ornaments.
"There should not be any room for any such incident in the Sanctum Santorum and other temples situated around. If such incidents are taking place, it has to be dealt with all seriousness with firm hand and there should not be any room for such incidents. Unlawful elements are responsible for doing such acts have to be removed out of the premises at all costs," the bench said. It directed the temple administration and the temple police to ensure that there are dedicated personnel to tighten security inside the temple, to ensure that no such incident takes place in the temples and no misbehavior is meted out to women.
"Those found involved in such acts cannot be said to be believer in the God also. When such an act is performed in the Temple, it is very disrespectful to Shri Jagannath and the Sanskruti. There is no place for such unlawful activities in Temples. The temple authorities and the police are directed to take strict action to avoid such incidents," the bench said. The top court passed nearly two dozen directions after considering reports of temple committee, administrator, amicus curiae, ex-governor of Orissa B D Sharma, Srimad Jagadguru Shankaracharya and erstwhile ruler Gajapathi and others.
It noted that Srimad Jagadguru Shankaracharya has expressed grave concern about the nitis/rituals which are required to be performed daily otherwise it would amount to desecration of the deities. The bench said that what rituals are to be performed is not for the court to decide, but when temple exists due to the deities, the deities cannot be permitted to be disregarded by non-performance of the nitis, puja and ritual in the traditional form as observed by Shankaracharya of Govardhan Math, Puri.
"Let the Temple Management Committee invite Srimad Jagadguru Shankaracharya and other stakeholders including the erstwhile ruler Gajapathi and ensure that nitis, puja and ritual are performed as prescribed. They are performed regularly punctually every day without any remiss and obstruction," it said. The top court also expressed serious concern over a last year incident when one Sevak, who who was entrusted with the duty of opening the door of Sanctum Santorum at 4.30 am for daily puja/nitis, did not open the door on the ground of his personal issues with the Police administration of Puri town and the door was opened at 4.30 pm.
"This is unpardonable. No one has right to obstruct the nitis and rituals of the Deity to be performed and there are approximately 60,000 people visiting the temple every day. There is absolutely no right with anyone to delay the opening of the temple for even a minute," it said. The bench also passed directions with regard to maintaining of hygiene where 'prasadam' for the deity is being prepared, accommodation for devotees, record of rights of the immovable and movable assets of the temple and schools for the children of servitors.
It directed for disbursal of Rs 5 crore cost deposited by Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) with apex court in some other case for utilization in construction of school, which would also include children from other sections of people. The top court passed the orders on a plea seeking investigation into the disappearance of the keys to the Ratna Bhandar of the Shri Jagannath Temple, Puri and sought directions for preparation of an inventory of the valuables stored at the temple.
In July last year, the top court had directed the Jagannath temple management to consider allowing every visitor, irrespective of faith, to offer prayers to the deity. However, it had said that it would be subject to regulatory measures regarding dress code and giving an appropriate declaration.
It had directed the Centre to constitute a committee to look into the issues raised by the district judge of Puri regarding alleged exploitation of devotees, abolishment of hereditary Sevaks and appointment of Sevaks in the temple.
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