SC order on Jagannath land remains unimplemented

Bhubaneswar: Even as a year has elapsed since the Supreme Court ordered the State to return Lord Jagannath’s land, sold out by the caretakers, to the temple administration, the directive has still remained in cold store.

In December, 2015, the apex court had delivered a historic verdict that all ‘Amrutamanohi’ land of Lord Jagannath have been transferred to third party at the behest of Endowment Department.

The apex court had clarified that the Orissa Estates Abolition Act-1951 would not be applicable to Sri Jagannath temple. “The Court had scrapped the amendment made by the government”, said JanaKalyan Das, lawyer of Sri Jagannath temple administration.

Senior Supreme Court lawyer JK Das said, “All properties including Amrutamanohi land, other landed properties or any donation/gift would be administered only by the temple administration”.

The caretakers subsequently have become the owner of the properties and earned crores by selling these.

An investigation carried out by OTV however revealed the government has become the land lord while Lord Jagannath has been made tenant, which is clearly mentioned in the land patta. Even being the owner of the land, the government has also received the land revenue.

Temple Act-1955 says that Lord Jagannath is the only owner of all his properties. However, Odisha government had taken custody of the lands by amending Odisha Estate Abolition Act in 1974. Later, the caretakers had cashed in on the notification and managed to sell these cunningly with the permission of Endowment department.

The case had been taken up to High Court and later Supreme Court. The apex court had directed the lands be returned to temple administration. Former Law minister Biswa Bhushan Harichandan said there are many instances of government not implementing the court’s order. “Many times, the government does not implement order of a High Court or Supreme Court if the verdict does not favour it”, Harichandan added.

It is worth mentioning that crores of Jagannath devotees and culture lovers are crazy for taking rebirth as a servant/ farmer in Lord’s land, which is well evident from the famous bhajans of Bhikari Bal. In such a State, the God has been made the ‘servant’, which has made the devotees fume.