Supreme Court Reserves Order On Petition Seeking Stay On Excavation In and Around Puri Jagannath Temple
The Supreme Court today rerserved its order after considering a challenge to the refusal of the Orissa High Court to restrain excavation being carried out in and around Lord Jagannath Temple, Puri.
The Bench comprising of Justice B. R. Gavai and Justice Hima Kohli heard Senior Advocate Mahalaksmi Pavani appearing for the Petitioners argue that "The State took No Objection Certificate from the National Monument Authority and went ahead but there is a clear embargo. The National Monument Authority could not have given a valid certificate."
Senior Advocate Vinay Navare submitted that the Director General Archaeological Survey of India had the authority to conduct the construction or excavations and that to has to be done after recording reasons, but that the project has been outsourced to TATA Projects Limited.
The Advocate General of Odisha, Ashok Kumar Parija submitted that the State is beautifying the place and taking up the project to provide the amenities to the piligrims coming to the temple. He submitted that this is being done after getting permission from the National Monument Authority.
This argument was also furthered by Senior Advocate Pinaki Misra who submitted that during the period of Rath Yatra about 10 – 15 lakh people visit the temple and the people were facing difficulties. He submitted that, "There were no toilets, female devotees had to suffer it was a disaster for them so this was done to provide better facilities."
The Petitioner in his Special Leave Petition submitted that the petition has been filed "to throw light as to how the State agencies has been working in gloves in gross violation of Section 20A of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958".
It has also been submitted that the petition is filed "challenging the illegal action of the Govt. of Odisha in not following the procedure laid down in the Ancient Monument & Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958 and the Ancient Monument & Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010, in relation to Shree Jagannath temple, whereby the Government of Odisha doing unauthorized construction work which posing serious threat to the structure of the ancient temple of Mahaprabhu shree Jagannath which is more than 800 years old."
The petitioner had contended that, "the State Government is trying to make some construction by excavating through heavy excavators more than 30 feet depth from the ground level, exactly adjacent to the western side of Meghanad Pacheri. Also heavy earth moving equipments are being used for construction work which is putting pressure on the base/foundation of the Lord Jagannath Temple." The petitioners prayed for the grant of ex-parte ad-interim stay of the operation of the order of the High Court of Cuttack.