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Amicus Curiae Will Protect The Hereditary Rights Of The Sevaks: SJTA Chief

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22 September 2018


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Puri: SC-appointed amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) Gopal Subramanium held discussions today with the managing committee of the Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) under the chairmanship of Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb over SC’s 12 proposals on disciplinary reform in the 12th century shrine.

On the second day of his Puri visit, amicus curiae took suggestions from the stakeholders on three controversial proposals- abolition of hereditary rights of the 'sevaks' (temple servitors), elimination of collection of ‘dakshina’ (donation) and amendments to the Jagannath Temple Act of 1954.

SJTA chief administrator Pradipta Mohapatra said after the meeting, “The amicus curiae will protect the hereditary rights of the sevaks however the number of sevaks are increasing so that has to be controlled. So his final recommendation to the apex court will be made along these lines.”

“Thus, a sevak name list will be prepared and those who don’t make it into the list will be given a generous compensation. They can also continue with ‘Jatri Seva’ (guide), as their livelihoods cannot be completely snatched away from them. This was the managing committee's suggestion,” Mohapatra added.

Identity cards will be given to the sevaks present in the list and persons involved in the Jatri Seva will get a different I-card. The amicus also held the firm opinion that all the buildings inside the temple premises belong to the administration and the sevaks cannot own it, informed the SJTA chief.

“As far as collection of money for ‘annadan atika’ is concerned, the amicus has said that there should be four ‘hundi’ (donation box) at four major places of the temple premises and collection of money in 'thali' and pitcher system should be stopped. A regulation body should also be appointed who will look into the amount of money collected and what part of it goes for the development of the shrine,” added Mohapatra.

He also informed that the accounts of the members present in the regulatory body will be audited.

“Meanwhile, the persons involved in Jatri Seva can accept money from the devotees they are serving outside the temple premises. There will be no transactions inside the temple,” concluded Mohapatra.

Amicus curiae Gopal Subramanium, who was extremely satisfied with the discussion with Gajapati said, “I have full confidence and faith that under his leadership all the recommendations can be carried out effectively. I feel blessed to meet him and will maintain my relations with him. The meeting was emotionally surcharged and I am happy to let you all know that we are making substantial progress.”

Subramanium will be completely involved in the implementation of the proposals and will be visiting once every 2 months, said Mohapatra.

Puri Collector and Superintendent of Police were also present in the meeting that was held today morning.

The amicus curiae will also hold discussion with the Advocate General and the Chhatisa Nijog before submitting his report to the Supreme Court.

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Pradipta Mohapatra, Chief Administrator, SJTA, Puri

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Gopal Subramanium, Amicus Curiae