Row over HC Bar Association head’s visit to Puri temple

Cuttack: The Executive body of the Orissa High Court Bar Association has stoked a controversy after flatly denying the claim made by Association president Ashok Mohapatra that a fact-finding team or Committee had been formed by the Association on the repair of Jagmohan.

Some members of the Association today said it was a deliberate attempt by a few people to tarnish the image of the Association.

Mohapatra had made the claim while talking to the media during his visit to Puri temple on Friday.

After visiting the 12th century shrine, he had told the media that despite being a member of the Fact Finding team of the HC Bar Association, he was not allowed to inspect the Jagmohan, the hall facing the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

“We are extremely sorry to hear that the fact-finding team of the Orissa High Court Bar Association was denied entry by the Sri Mandir temple administration into the Jagmohan site for inspection three days back. I want to inform you that no resolution regarding the Jagmohan repair issue was passed either by the Executive Body or the General Body of the Association. Also, no Fact Finding team has been formed on this,” said Ashis Mishra, Executive Body Member, Orissa High Court Bar Association

“If any members had visited the temple identifying themselves as members of the factfinding team, then it is completely false. It could be their personal visit to the temple and Orissa High Court Bar Association has nothing to do with the visit,” Mishra stated.

The member said that after due consultation with other members of the Association, a reply will be sought from the concerned person on the issue.

“We had no information about their visit to the temple. Had it been an official tour, at least the Executive Body or General Body should have known about it. We will soon bring a resolution on this development and if needed we will seek a reply from them on their media statement,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mohapatra has clarified that he visited the temple as he is the lawyer in a public interest litigation (PIL) case filed on the issue.

“This case has no links with the Executive Body. I am the lawyer in the PIL filed regarding the safety of Puri temple and repair of Jagmohan. For that, I had visited the temple to inspect it. I was accompanied by a few members of the Association. Since I am the lawyer in the concerned case, I wanted to see the condition of Jagmohan. But as I was denied entry in the restricted area, I returned. I believe some members of the Association are deliberately raising the issue for their personal gain,” he maintained.

He further said, “Nobody has the power to seek answer from me on this. I am not subordinate to anybody.”