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Missing Ratna Bhandar keys: Justice Das takes charge of inquiry commission

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Bhubaneswar: Justice Raghubir Das, retired judge of Orissa High court, today took charge as the Chairman of the commission of inquiry which will probe into the missing of Ratna Bhandar keys of Sri Mandir in Odisha’s Puri.

While the last date for filing affidavits by public is June 25, the first meeting of the commission will be held at Circuit House, Puri on July 30, informed Justice Das after assuming charge.

Through newspaper advertisements, the commission has invited individuals, associations, NGOs and Departments and Officers of the State Government acquainted with the subject matters of the inquiry to furnish affidavits.

The commission will enquire into (i) sequence of events and circumstances leading to the reported non-availability of the keys of the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar, (ii) the role, conduct and accountability of individuals/groups/authorities for the reported non-availability of the keys and (iii) any other matter connected with or incidental thereto as the commission may consider appropriate including measures to be taken to avoid recurrence of such event in future.

It will submit its report within three months from the date of publication of notification regarding Terms of Reference (ToR) dated 8.6.2018.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had on June 4 ordered a judicial probe into the circumstances leading to the non-availability of the keys of Ratna Bhandar.

Notably, the copies of the proceedings of the temple managing body meeting held on April 4 had revealed that the loss of keys of the inner chambers of the Ratna Bhandar was reported by the Puri Collector who informed the meeting that despite searches, the missing keys could not be found.

However, a team of Puri district administration on June 13 found a set of keys in a strong box of the District Record Room. Collector Arvind Agarwal informed mediapersons that the keys were found in a sealed envelope carrying a tag of ‘duplicate keys of Bhitara Bhandar’.