Missing Ratna Bhandar key: Justice Raghubir Das assumes charge of Inquiry Commission

Cuttack: Retired Orissa High Court judge, Justice Raghubir Das on Wednesday took charge as the chairman of the Commission of Inquiry which will probe into the missing of Ratna Bhandar key of Puri Srimandir.

Odisha government had earlier ordered a judicial probe into the circumstances leading to mysterious disappearance of the key of Puri Srimandir’s inner Ratna Bhandar (treasury) on June 4.

The Inquiry Commission will probe how and under what circumstances keys of the treasure trove of the Lord Jagannath went missing and will submit a fact finding report to the government within three months.

The Commission in a notification invited information, grievances and as well as suggestions from individuals, organisations and others in the form of affidavits within July 25. The panel is scheduled to hold its first hearing at Puri on July 30.

“We have sought statements from various persons in the form of affidavits basing on the terms of reference including the sequence of events and circumstances leading to non-availability of the key of the Ratna Bhandar, role, conduct of individual, group, authorities for the reported non-availability of the key and several other facts,” said Das.

It is pertinent to note that the missing of the Ratna Bhandar key snowballed into a major controversy last month.  Even as the whereabouts of the original key was still unknown, the district administration claimed to have recovered a set of duplicate keys inside an envelope from the district record room sparked a fresh row and public outcry over the issue across the State.

Ratna Bhandar, the treasure trove of Lord Jagannath and his sibling deities was opened for the first time in 34 years on April 4 this year. A 16-member expert team examined the two outer chambers of the Ratna Bhandar but returned without going into the inner chamber (Bhitara Ratna Bhandar) due to the unavailability of the keys.