New Delhi, June 2 (SocialNews.XYZ) The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on a plea alleging the illegal construction and excavation of the Shree Jagannath temple in Puri by the government of Odisha.
Lead Attorney Mahalakshmi Pavani, representing the petitioner, submitted before a vacation bench of Judges BR Gavai and Hima Kohli that no construction can be done in the prohibited area of the temple and that the state government has obtained NOC of the National Monuments Authority (NMA) and carried out the work.
She argued that only the Director of Archeology – at central or state level could issue a valid certificate, not the NMA.
Odisha’s Advocate General, Ashok Kumar Parija, argued before the bench that the NMA is the authority under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. He added that the state government’s director of culture is the competent authority who gave permission, and the government plans to provide amenities and beautify the temple.
Parija noted that the renovation of an existing structure or building, or the maintenance and cleaning of drains and similar amenities, and the upkeep of works intended to supply water to the public are not within the scope of building.
“60,000 people visit every day, that’s the attendance. It was said that there was a need for toilets. The Amicus pointed out that there was a need for more toilets and the court had issued instructions in this regard,” he added.
The AG said the state government is undertaking activities to provide amenities to pilgrims, as authorized by the NMA.
Another lawyer pointed out that during the annual Rath Yatra, around 15-20 lakh people visit the temple and there have been cases of stampedes in the past. He added that there was a need to increase amenities for pilgrims.
After hearing detailed arguments on the matter, the high court said it would issue the order on Friday.
Petitioner Ardhendu Kumar Das and others have moved the Supreme Court alleging illegal excavation and construction work carried out by the state government at the temple.
The plea alleged that the state government was carrying out unauthorized construction work, which poses a threat to the structure of the temple.