Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, June 21:
The Odisha High Court has sought a reply from the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on the alleged sale of 112 acres and 16 decimals of land belonging to Lord Jagannath in Chhatrama village under Khordha tehsil at throwaway prices.
While the High Court bench comprising Justice Dr AK Rath, Justice Biswajeet Mohanty and Justice Dr Bidyut Ranjan Sarangi fixed the next date of hearing on August 8, it directed the SJTA and amicus curiae senior lawyer Jayanta Das to file their replies before the date of hearing.
The opposite party, which had purchased the land, also filed its contention before the court.
According to the case details, 112 acres and 16 decimals of land in in Chhatrama village under Khordha tehsil belonging to Lord Jagannath was sold to Kukumina Construction Company for Rs 45, 98,960 at the rate of only Rs 41,100 per acre. The matter came to light recently when the Record of Rights (ROR) of the land was being prepared.
The land has hillocks, cashew plantations within it, which are not allowed to be sold under the law. Questions have been raised as to how the sale could take place despite the presence of these within the sold patch of land.
The High Court suo motu registered a case, taking into cognizance newspaper reports published on the land deal and sought replies from the state government. As per information the SJTA had taken a decision on the sale of 112 acres of land in 1994 when an advertisement was published in this regard and the state government had approved the sale.
The land was auctioned under the supervision of the High Court in 1998. Kukumina Constructions had purchased the land at Rs 41,100 per acre and had accordingly deposited the amount as per the directives of the court.
However, the High Court felt that large scale irregularities were involved as well as undue favours were shown in the land deal and suo motu filed a PIL in the matter.
Advocate Biswanath Rath is conducting the case on behalf of the SJTA.