Srimandir reforms: Amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium holds discussions with stakeholders

Puri: Gopal Subramanium, who has been appointed amicus curiae by the Supreme Court to oversee proposed disciplinary reforms in the management of Puri Jagannath temple affairs, met Puri Shankaracharya and various other stakeholders today and held discussions.

After reaching Puri yesterday night, the amicus curiae visited the 12th century shrine in the morning today and paid obeisance to Lord Jagannath and then met Puri Shankaracharya Nischalananda Saraswati.

“It was a blessing of a lifetime to have darshan of Lord Jagannath and meet the Shankaracharya. I discussed with him various shortcomings and reforms required and look to move forward while considering his suggestions,” Subramanium said.

After the meeting, Shankaracharya said that steps should be taken in a manner that there is no exploitation. “We should attempt to maintain the sanctity of the temple and the culture of Lord Jagannath so that no one gets an opportunity to point fingers,” he said.

At around 10 AM today, Subramanium held a meeting with the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) officials, Puri SP and Collector Jyoti Prakash Das.

During the meeting, the officials held discussions with the amicus curiae on the temple, its history, culture, various customs and rituals. This apart, they also briefed him about the various aspects of temple management and how it is unique from other shrines across the country, informed sources.

After the discussions, SJTA chief administrator, Pradipta Mohapatra informed that out of the 12 suggested reforms, various stakeholders have given their consent on 9 proposals, but the most important three- abolition of hereditary appointment of servitors, prohibition of collection of money for Annadan Atika by servitors and amendment of the Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954 – have been the topics of dissent and the amicus curiae has been apprised about the matter.

Sources said the amicus curiae will meet with secretary of the Law department and a three-member committee of the state government and will also hold discussions with the Puri District Judge.

Tomorrow, the amicus curiae will interact with Puri King Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb followed by a meeting with the temple management committee. He will also hold discussions with Puri MLA, MP and later meet the Advocate General of Odisha.

The senior advocate will submit a report to the apex court after considering the suggestions of all these stakeholders.

Taking serious note of allegations of exploitation of devotees by servitors, malpractices and mismanagement in the 12th century shrine, the Supreme Court, while hearing a petition on June 8 and July 5, had directed the temple administration to implement 12 proposals as a part of disciplinary reforms.

The apex court appointed Subramanium as amicus curiae to assist in the matter.