Ratna Bhandar controversy: Case against Collector, ex-SJTA administrator

Puri: Amid the controversy surrounding the key of Puri Srimandir’s Ratna Bhandar (treasure trove), a case was registered in the Puri Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) court against district Collector Arvind Agarwal and former chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), Pradeep Jena today.

As per reports, lawyer and petitioner Chinmaya Das filed an I Cc case in the court against Agarwal and Jena. Hearing of the case has been scheduled for Monday, informed sources.

“Starting from the day when the news of disappearance of the key of Ratna Bhandar broke out, we have been hearing several things. The transfer of the SJTA chief administrator has added to the doubts. As the Chief Minister has ordered a judicial inquiry, the former SJTA administrator should be made a party to the case. We believe impartiality is not being maintained in the whole matter,” said Das.

“Though several organisations have lodged FIRs at different police stations in Puri town in connection with the controversy, no action has been taken yet. Therefore, I have filed a case in the Puri SDJM court,” he added.

Earlier in the day, BJP spokesperson Pitambar Acharya in a presser targeted the Chief Minister and said, “For safe keeping of donations given to Srimandir, there is a foundation fund committee which is headed by the CM. Now the CM is trapped under the Sec 13 of the Anti-Corruption Act and anyone can file a case in the Vigilance court.”

Refuting the charges, BJD spokesperson and MP Pratap Deb said, “BJP is trying to rake up the Ratna Bhandar controversy by holding pressers frequently. They will not succeed in their sinister political motives. Besides, the State government knows its responsibility and everything is being done as per the law. If they (BJP) are not happy, they can take legal help and we will have no objections.”

The Odisha government has formed an inquiry commission to investigate the controversy surrounding the disappearance of the Ratna Bhandar key.

As per the notification on the terms of reference (ToR) for the inquiry commission, it is stipulated that the commission will carry out an investigation to ascertain under what circumstances the administration failed to find the key. It will also look into the roles and responsibilities of different individuals and groups.

Retired Orissa High Court judge Raghubir Das is heading the commission which will submit the report within three months.