SC asks Puri District Court to investigate mismanagement at Puri Srimandir

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed Puri district Court to look into the affairs of management of Puri Srimandir after hearing a case pertaining to mismanagement and harassment of devotees at the 12th century shrine.

The apex court has also asked the Odisha government to constitute an ‘experts team’ to study the management practices adopted by several major temples in the country and submit a report. The team will study the management practices adopted by major shrines like Vaishno Devi and Tirupati that can be replicated at Puri Srimandir and submit a report by June 30.

The Supreme Court direction came up while hearing a PIL filed by Mrunalini Padhi of Cuttack.

“We had moved Supreme Court on mainly three aspects- devotees being harassed, poor sanitation and mismanagement of the temple which is evident from the fact that key of Puri Srimandir Ratna Bhandar has been lost,” said petitioner’s counsel, Subhransu Padhi.

Padhi informed that the apex court has asked Puri district judge to constitute a committee and submit report on what are the deficiencies for which devotees are facing problems and what reform measures can be undertaken for improvement.

Apart from this, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has also been directed to ensure that all the funds received as donations from devotees are utilised for temple’s development and installation of CCTV cameras.

The Supreme Court has also appointed amicus curiae, Gopal Subramanium and asked him to study both the reports and suggest the court for necessary direction in the next hearing on July 5.

The Supreme Court categorically stated that as it has dealt with issues like devotees’ harassment and proper utilization of donations in the larger interest of the public, either the Orissa High Court or other appropriate fora can take up the issue of missing key of Puri Ratna Bhandar, Padhi added.