Amicus Curiae, Solicitor General of India seek two-week time from Supreme Court to file report on developmental works, eviction drive carried around Jagannath Temple

New Delhi: Amicus Curiae Ranjit Kumar & Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta seek two-week time from Supreme Court of India to file report on developmental works & eviction drive carried around Jagannath Temple; next date of hearing on October 3.

The Jagannath Temple Petition No W.P (c ) No 649/2018 was today listed as item 3 before the Bench of Justices Shri Arun Mishra, M.R.Shah and B.R.Gavai (Court No 4) of the Supreme Court.

Upon the matter being taken up, the Amicus Shri Ranjit Kumar informed the Bench that he was yet to file his report pursuant to his visit to Puri, and sought two weeks to file his report.

While granting the Amicus two weeks to file his report, Justice Arun Mishra asked the Advocate General of Odisha, Mr. Ashok Parija, to look into the grievances of all the stakeholders before acquiring land from them.

Further Justice Mishra directed that the process must be carried out only in accordance with law and no matter how noble the intentions of the State Government of Odisha may be. The matter has now been listed for hearing on 3rd October 2019. The interveners were represented by senior Counsel Shri R. Venkataramani and Shri Sai Deepak. And Shri Suvi Dutt is the advocate on record for some of the Mahants.

It will not be out of context that the Amicus Curiae had supposedly given a clean chit to the demolitions during his last visit to Puri. His press statement was used by the state and district administration as a approval of the Supreme Court, while the fact is that the Amicus has not even submitted his report. The Shankaracharya had gone on record saying that he had protested before the Amicus. What conspired between the Gajapati and the Amicus is not known, it was a close door affair.

The destruction of the Emar Mutt, Langudi Mutt and the Bada Akhada Mutt was conducted in a manner flouting many of the existing laws of the land besides international laws. India is a signatory of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, UNESCO and International Council of Museums.

The Shankaracharya, the Mahants and many other affected persons had petitioned that they were not consulted. The manner in which the 900 year old Emar Mutt, the 500 year old Bada Akhada Mutt and the Langudi Mutt had raised the hackles of many heritage experts.

The demolition of the Mangu and Panjabi Mutts, both of which were Sikh Mutts had raised protests from the Sikh community worldwide. An appeal was made to the Chief Minister by Anil Dhir and Sukhvinder Kaur, and even the CM of Punjab had put in his request. A five member team from the Delhi Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee has come to Puri and met the Collector in this regard.

The Convener of INTACH’s Odisha Chapter, Amiya Bhusan Tripathy too had put a memorandum asking for a rethink on the demolitions and instead conserving and restoring the old Mutts.

While the Supreme Court has not directly ordered a stay on the demolitions, it has strongly recommended that all development should be within the ambit of the law and with due consent with the affected parties. This is a wait and watch moment for the stakeholders.

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