Consult Shankaracharya, Servitors On Puri Eviction, SC Tells Odisha Govt

Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Odisha government to seek suggestions from Puri Shankaracharya, senior servitors and other stakeholders before demolishing ancient mutts and other temple property around Lord Jagannath temple.

Hearing a petition regarding reforms in Srimandir today, a three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Justice Arun Kumar Mishra asked the state government to submit status report on eviction drive carried out around the 12-century shrine so far.

Amicus Curiae Ranjit Kumar submitted his report to the Supreme Court regarding eviction drive and subsequent rehabilitation process carried out in Puri. The senior advocate had visited Puri on September 7 to take stock of eviction drive.

During the hearing, the amicus curiae expressed his views as to how the rehabilitation and resettlement packages announced by the state government for the affected people would be implemented properly.

The bench expressed happiness over the decision taken by the state government for the security of the shrine. Asking the state government to take the decisions in future after consultation with all stakeholders, the bench adjourned the hearing to October 22.

“The apex court advised that the worshiping places in the mutts should be protected and kept intact during eviction drive. We have informed the court that its directives are already being religiously followed in the rehabilitation and resettlement package announced by the government. The court has further suggested that it would be better to discuss with the religious leaders before taking any decision on demolition of any structures,” Odisha Advocate General Ashok Parija said.

“We thank the SC for listening to our woes,” secretary of Garabadu Nijog Rajat Kumar Pratihari.

If the district administration will hold discussion with the servitors who are supporting it in the eviction drive, it will yield no fruitful result, said senior servitor, Binayak Das Mohapatra.

Welcoming the decision of the apex court, spokesman of Govardhan Peeth, Manoj Kumar Rath said that prior consultation of Puri Sankaracharya Swamy Nischalananda Saraswati is indeed needed in case of any step or decision taken regarding the Srimandir.