Home ART & CULTURE Odisha govt mulling amendment to Jagannath Temple Act

Odisha govt mulling amendment to Jagannath Temple Act


Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, July 6:

With pressure mounting from all quarters for amendment of laws governing the management of Shree Jagannath temple affairs following the Ghata Parivartan fiasco, the Odisha government has begun deliberations on the issue.

Puri Jagannath Temple

Sources said the Law department is working on identifying loopholes in the laws governing management of the Shree Jagannath temple affairs and is preparing a report to give more teeth to these laws. The department plans to bring amendments in this regard in the winter session of the State Assembly.

The last time the government amended the Shree Jagannath Temple Act, 1955 was in 2004. Extensive changes were made to the law following recommendations by the Gajapati Maharaja. An officer of the rank of RDC cum Commissioner was vested with the responsibility of the Chief Administrator of the temple administration. An officer of the rank of additional chief secretary was assigned to manage the affairs of the Shree Jagannath temple.

However, a look back into the last decade shows that not only has disorderliness increased during the period, even the Lords had to remain hungry for days and blood spilled in fights within the temple premises. The Ghata Parivartan fiasco crossed all limits.

The additional chief secretary rank officer has been vested with management responsibility for name’s sake. The officer refrains from interfering directly in any matter. It seems as if the government has taken a decision not to appoint a full-time /independent officer as the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA)’s chief administrator.

In the past, chief administrators of SJTA have been handling administration of the SJTA as an additional charge to their parent posting. Moreover, the government or the Law department has never taken the management of the Shree Jagannath Temple affairs seriously. A handful of servitors have been appeased to such a level that every year during Rath Yatra, they become a cause for headache for the government. With the Rath Yatra over every year, the government blissfully forgets its responsibilities towards the Shree Jagannath temple, opine people in the know of the temple affairs.

The discontentment expressed by all sections of the people in the state over the Ghata Parivartan fiasco has scared the government, forcing it to go for a relook at the laws and make amendments to give them more teeth governing management of the Shree Jagannath temple affairs.

Reliable sources said the Law department is examining details of the number of times the rituals of the Lords been disrupted after the 2004 amendment to Shree Jagannath Temple Act, 1955 came into force, who were responsible for it and what specific action/measures need to be taken to prevent indiscipline by servitors. Moreover, it has been decided to prepare a draft of the amendment and seek opinion from different sections and stakeholders.

“There have been persistent demands from different sections for amending the laws governing the management of Shree Jagannath temple affairs. It’s under active consideration of the government. But before taking any decision in this regard, the Law department will seek the opinion of different stakeholders from all categories/sections of people,” said Law minister Arun Sahu.

Meanwhile, the Daitapati Nijog has stated that it will be giving its views on the Shree Mandir Record of Rights (RoR) at the office of the SJTA today.

It may be recalled that the Mukti Mandap  Pandit Sabha had on Saturday alleged that the Daitapatis sevayats (servitors) were presenting misleading facts with regard to the (RoR) over rights pertaining to Ghata Parivartan of the Lords.

The Sabha has contended that the Pati Mohapatra’s are entitled to do the Ghata Parivartan and Bisarjan rituals seeking a re-examination of the RoR and temple records with regard to earlier Nabakalebaras.