Cuttack: The Orissa High today asked the State Government to to constitute a High Level Committee, if the Srimandir Managing Committee approaches them, for supervising the process of inventorisation of the valuables including jewelleries stored in the Ratna Bhandar.
A division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Subashis Talapatra and Justice Savitri Ratho has issued an order while hearing a plea of former state President of BJP, Samir Mohanty,
The HC has refused to intervene with the plans of the Shri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee (SJTMC) to do an inventory of the valuables including jewellery kept in the Ratna Bhandar of Srimandir and repair works of its interior walls.
The petitioner has raised two important issues viz. safety of the Ratna Bhandar and transparency in respect of the valuable articles stored in the Ratna Bhandar.
“Even if we dismiss the writ petition on the question of locus standi, that dismissal may not refrain the court from delving deeper into these questions as Shri Jagannath Temple is the beacon of ultimate faith of millions of people. In such circumstances, we direct the State Government to constitute a High Level Committee, if they are approached by the SJTMC for supervising the process of inventorisation of the valuables including jewelleries stored in the Ratna Bhandar,” the court said.
The HC asked the State Government to form the Committee within a period of sixty days from the date when the SJTMC will approach them.
“It is evident from the Minutes of a meeting that the SJTMC has stated that no inventory of the ornaments or valuables stored in the Ratna Bhandar has been made for many years. The SJTMC has felt it necessary to conduct an inventory of all the ornaments of Lord Shri Jagannath stored both in inner and outer Ratna Bhandar,” the court observed.
The SJTMC has also requested the State Government to constitute a High Level Committee under the Chairmanship of a retired Judge either of the High Court or of the Supreme Court to supervise the conduct of the inventory as well as to determine its modus operandi, it said.
On repair of the Ratna Bhandar, the court said, “If there had been any sense of urgency, we believe that the Superintending Archaeologist would have advised the SJTMC accordingly.”
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Shri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee (SJTMC) have been asked to collaborate actively on the conservation works of the Ratna Bhandar.
“We expect that the State Government shall come forward for efficient management when their cooperation will be sought by the SJTMC,” it said.