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Suryakant Jena

New Delhi/Puri: The Supreme Court-appointed Amicus Curiae Ranjit Kumar today submitted his report on Srimandir reforms before a special bench of the apex court. The bench comprising Justice AK Shikri, S Abdul Nazeer and MR Shah scheduled April 2 as the next date of hearing and have directed all parties to submit their responses on the Amicus Curiae’s report within four weeks.

“After a senior advocate appealed Supreme Court to make Puri Shankaracharya a party in the case, the apex court has also granted him four weeks' time to submit response on the Amicus Curiae’s report,” informed the counsel of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration, Swetaketu Mishra.

Earlier on February 23 and 24 during his visit to Puri, the Amicus Curiae had discussed the reform measures suggested by the apex court with several stakeholders including Puri King Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb, temple administration, Shankaracharya and servitor associations.

Later on February 27, the apex court had deferred the hearing till March 5 due to the absence of one of the judges.

Asked about whether the case is being unnecessarily delayed, Mishra said the issue is very sensitive and as the rituals and practices are more than several centuries old, before taking any concrete decision, extensive consultations are required.

Senior servitor of Puri Jagannath Temple, Binayak Das Mohapatra said if experts have been unable to suggest a set of effective reform measures for Srimandir since long, how one can find a plausible solution to it in a matter of few hours.

“We have cited our concerns regarding some contentious issues and the Shankaracharya will also soon become a party in the case, so we hope the apex court will rule in our favour, said Das Mohapatra.

The top court is dealing with a plea filed by an RTI activist Mrinalini Padhi which has highlighted the difficulties faced by the devotees at the Jagannath temple and their alleged harassment and exploitation by the servitors.

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