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Odisha’s Srimandir reforms: Amicus curiae to visit Puri on Sept 20

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Puri: In a significant development in the reformations of Shree Jagannath Temple in Odisha’s Puri, the Supreme Court-appointed amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium is expected to arrive in Puri on September 20.

During his three-day visit, Subramanium will hold talks with Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb, Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth Nischalananda Saraswati, officials of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and servitors over the suggestions made by the apex court for temple reforms.

The Supreme Court, hearing a petition filed by one Mrinalini Padhi highlighting difficulties faced by devotees at the temple and their harassment or exploitation by the servitors, had on June 8 asked the Puri District Judge to furnish a report on factual aspects of (a) Difficulties faced by the visitors, (b) Exploitative practices, if any, (c) Deficiencies in the management, if any, and (d) Suggestions, if any.

The District Judge, Puri in a report submitted to the Supreme Court had made several suggestions for the reformation. In the report, it was suggested to abolish hereditary Sevaks and prohibit placing of Thalis and pitchers by the temple servitors to receive offering.

Control of Rosaghar and Chullas by the Temple Management, provision of separate toilets for male, female and sevaks, queue system for hassle free darshan, surveillance of collection from Hundis and receptacles, audit of Temple Funds by Accountant General, identity cards for sevaks and staff, registration of guides in the Temple office, reduction of over staff of Temple Administration and single authority for security management in Temple Premises were the other suggestions made by the District Judge in the report.

The court had also directed the Odisha Government to study the management systems of other important shrines in the country and follow accordingly. The apex court had appointed Gopal Subramanium as amicus curiae to make a field visit and submit a report after taking opinions of all the stakeholders for final adjudication of the case.