Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today ordered a judicial probe into the circumstances leading to the non-availability of the keys of Ratna Bhandar of Sri Mandir, Puri, the Chief Minister’s Office said in a release.
The inquiry will be conducted by a retired judge of the Orissa High Court and to be completed within three months, the release added.
The CM’s directive came after Law Minister Pratap Jena met him at the State Secretariat to discuss about the issue. The judicial probe will find out the circumstances leading to the missing of the treasury keys and further steps will be taken after the probe is over, said Jena.
On the other hand, Opposition Congress and BJP have criticised the State Government over the probe order.
“The judicial probe order shows the casual approach of the government in the matter. It could have directed for a CBI or Crime Branch investigation,” said Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Niranjan Patnaik.
“The judicial inquiry is an eyewash. Forgery case should be registered against those who had kept the keys. Why was the CM silent since April 4 after the matter came to fore,” said BJP vice-president Samir Mohanty.
Notably, the copies of the proceedings of the temple managing body meeting held on April 4 have 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.
As per norms, the keys are handed over to the Collector after locking the temple treasury. The keys are then deposited in the district treasury. However, there was no mention of receipt of keys either in the government treasury or with the Collector.
The non-availability of keys of Ratna Bhandar (treasury) had drawn flak, with Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati of Govardhan Peeth having demanded a probe into the case.
Worth mentioning, a 16-member team had on April 4 entered the Ratna Bhandar after 34 years to inspect its physical conditions following an order of the Orissa High Court.
The members of the inspection team did not need to enter the inner chamber as the chambers were visible from outside through an iron grill, an official of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration had said after the inspection.