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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The Supreme Court of India on Friday dismissed two petitions filed alleging illegal construction work around Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri under Srimandir Heritage Corridor project.

Terming the pleas as ‘frivolous’, the apex court imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh each on both the petitioners.

“In the recent past it is noticed that there’s a mushrooming growth of PILs. Many such petitions are either publicity interest litigation or personal interest litigation. We deprecate the practice of filing such PILs as it is a waste of judicial time and it needs to be nipped in bud so that development work is not stalled,” a bench comprising Justice BR Gavai and Justice Hima Kohli observed.

The Court held that the activities undertaken by the State are necessary in the larger public interest and are in tune with the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act 1958 and also with the earlier directions issued by the Supreme Court in relation to the administration of the temple.

The Court observed that the construction activities are meant to provide facilities and amenities to of devotees.

“We have considered the argument that only individual can be allowed to construct toilets and state cannot. Can the state be denied when it finds it necessary in larger public interest to provide facilities to devotees? Answer is an emphatic no,” Justice Gavai stated reading out the operative portion of the order.

The Court said that a hue and cry was made that construction was against ASI report, however note of the Director General would falsify this position. The High Court had recorded the Advocate General’s submission that no archeological remains are missed out or damaged.

The vacation bench on Thursday had reserved its orders in two special leave petitions filed challenging Odisha High Court’s order refusing to restrain the State from carrying out any excavation in and around Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri.

Reacting to Supreme Court’s hearing, senior advocate and BJD MP Pinaki Mishra said it is nothing but the voice of the Lord.

“Every possible point including the legal issues, factual matters have been held in our favour in the judgement. The Court has considered all the issues including controversies and difference of opinions and mentioned it in the operative paragraphs. I think the time has come to end the entire issue from now on,” said Mishra.

“It was not an individual work of Naveen Patnaik or me. I was targeted and abused for political narrow motives. I was also called a liar, but I have no issue with it as I have worked selflessly for the people of Odisha and development of Srimandir. I would appeal again that let there be no further controversy and question mark over the legalities of the construction work hereafter,” he added.

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