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Have visited Jagannath Temple, will file report soon: Amicus curiae to SC

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
A senior advocate, assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae in the matter related to administration of the Jagannath temple in Puri, Wednesday told the Supreme Court that he had visited the shrine to understand the ground realities and would file a report soon.
Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who was asked by the court to visit the temple to assess the ground realities, told a bench of Justices S A Nazeer and M R Shah that he had held meetings with the temple management committee, 'sewaks' of the shrine and the local MP and MLA.
"I had visited the temple. My report in not complete. The report will take some time," Kumar told the court.
The bench, while taking note of Kumar's submission, posted the matter for further hearing on March 5.
"At the request made by amicus curiae (Kumar), list the matter on March 5 to enable him to file the report," the bench said.
On February 5, the counsel appearing for Odisha had said that the amicus curiae should visit the temple and himself take stock of the situation there.
On being asked about it, Kumar had told the court that he would visit the temple on February 22 and 23 and file a report before the court.
The top court is dealing with a plea which has highlighted the difficulties faced by the devotees at the Jagannath temple and their alleged harassment or exploitation by the 'sevaks'.
Kumar had earlier told the court that one of the major issues at the temple was lack of proper crowd management and absence of queue system for the devotees.
To this, the state counsel had said it was not easy to have a "typical queue system" for the devotees at the shrine, as its architecture was different.
Earlier, Puri's District Judge had given a report to the apex court which had raised the issue of alleged harassment of devotees by the 'sevaks' (staffs) of the temple.
Nine policemen were injured in the violence at Puri in October last year during a 12-hour bandh called by a socio-cultural organisation protesting the introduction of a queue system for devotees visiting the temple, police had said.
The court had earlier said that no policeman should enter Jagannath temple "with weapons and shoes" after it was alleged before it that during the October 3 last year violence at the shrine, cops had entered there with boots and guns.
The Odisha government's counsel had termed the allegations as "absolutely false" and said no policeman had entered the temple as the incident had taken place at the office of Shree Jagannath temple administration situated around 500 metres from the main temple.
In July last year, the top court had directed the Jagannath temple management to consider allowing every visitor, irrespective of faith, to offer prayers to the deity.
However, it had said that it would be subject to regulatory measures regarding dress code and giving an appropriate declaration.
It had directed the Centre to constitute a committee to look into the issues raised by the district judge of Puri regarding alleged exploitation of devotees, abolishment of hereditary 'sevaks' and appointment of 'sevaks' in the temple.

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First Published: Feb 27 2019 | 7:25 PM IST

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