PIL questions Puri seer’s chariot rulings of 2013

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court today issued notices to the state government and Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee (SJTMC) on a PIL which questions the propriety of SJTMC in seeking the opinion of the Shankaracharya as to who has the right to climb the chariots during the Car festival and touch the deities.

A bench of Justice Indrajit Mahanti and Justice D P Choudhury issued the notices on the PIL filed by one Basant Kumar Behera of Cuttack city.

Stating that the move by SJTMC to seek the opinion of the Shankaracharya and subsequently accepting the opinion of the seer over the issue was “erroneous” and “illegal”, the petitioner pleaded before the High Court to quash the decision of the managing committee taken on August 17, 2013.

It may be mentioned here that following a hue and cry during the Rath Yatra of 2012 when a foreign national climbed atop the chariots, the temple managing committee sought an opinion from the Shankaracharya on the issue.

The Shankaracharya gave his opinion saying only Brahmins engaged in seva puja were entitled to climb atop the chariots and touch the deities.

The Shankaracharya further said he himself and the Gajapati Maharaja were also entitled to climb atop the chariots during the Rath Yatra for the seva puja.

Terming the opinion of the Shankaracharya as “unwarranted”, the petitioner said the same opinion was also contrary to the Record-of-Rights (RoR) prepared under Puri Sri Jagannath Temple (Administration) Act of 1952.