SC Reserves Verdict In Srimandir Parikrama Project Case

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on a plea claiming illegal construction and excavation at the Shree Jagannath temple in Puri by the Odisha government.

Senior advocate Mahalakshmi Pavani, representing the petitioner, submitted before a vacation bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and Hima Kohli that no construction can be carried out in the prohibited area at the temple and the state government got NOC from the National Monuments Authority (NMA) and carried out the construction.

She argued that only the Director, Archaeology – either at the Central or state level could grant a valid certificate, and not the NMA.

Advocate General for Odisha Ashok Kumar Parija contended before the bench that the NMA is the authority under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. He added that the state government’s Director, Culture is the competent authority, which gave the permission, and the government plans to provide amenities and beautification of the temple.

Parija noted that the renovation of an existing structure or building, or maintenance and cleansing of drains and similar conveniences, and maintenance of works meant for providing supply of water for the public do not fall under the ambit of construction.

“60,000 people are visiting everyday, that’s the footfall. It was said that there’s a need to have toilets. The Amicus pointed out there was a necessity for more toilets and the court had issued directions in that regarda..,” he added.

The AG said that the state government is undertaking the activities to provide amenities to the pilgrims, which has the permission from the NMA.

Another counsel pointed out that during the annual Rath Yatra, around 15-20 lakh people visit the temple, and there have been instances of stampedes in the past. He added that there was a need to increase the amenities for pilgrims.

After hearing detailed arguments in the matter, the top court said it will pronounce the order on Friday.

Petitioner Ardhendu Kumar Das and others have moved the top court alleging illegal excavation and construction work carried out by the state government at the temple.

The plea alleged that the state government is carrying out unauthorised construction work, which is a threat to the structure of the temple.