HC tells govt to shift Emar mutt riches to police armoury

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to shift the silver bricks seized from Emar mutt premises to the safe custody of district police armoury until further orders.

The order by a single-judge bench of Justice M M Das followed an intervention petition filed by Emar Mutt interim management trustee to be a party in the case.

The High Court also asked the government to deposit the cash seized by police from different persons in this connection in an interest-bearing bank account.

The mutt`s interim managing trustee headed by Mahanta Sri Indra Raman Ramanuja Das had filed the intervention petition for proper maintenance and safe custody of all the 522 silver bricks worth over Rs 80 crore seized from the mutt premises in February.

While the ownership of the riches has entered a legal tussle after the erstwhile mahanta, who has since been arrested, had filed a writ in the HC, the interim trustee staked its claim on the Mutt properties.

However, when the state government informed the HC that the mutt was in a dilapidated condition and it was not safe to keep the valuables there, Justice Das ordered the government to shift the silver bricks to the police armoury.

The state government on the day also submitted a seizure list in the court as per its direction. According to the list, the police have seized at least Rs 2.54 lakh in cash among other things from different persons who were involved in theft of some silver bricks from the Mutt.

The police were directed by the court that henceforth if any seizure was made from inside the Mutt premises, the copy of the seizure list should be immediately provided to the Endowment Commissioner.

Earlier the interim managing trustee had maintained that it would be affected if any order was passed by the HC without allowing it to be a party in the proceedings.

Claiming the treasure belonged to the Mutt as per the provisions of Hindu Religious Endowment Act, the previous mahanta had suggested that the riches should be kept in the account of the mutt.