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No Specific Number Of Sri Mandir ‘Sevaks’ Cited To Supreme Court, A Rumour: SJTA Chief

30 April 2019


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Puri: Following media report that the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has specified a number of ‘sevaks’ (temple servitors) in its affidavit submitted with Supreme Court regarding the temple reforms, SJTA chief administrator Pradipta Mohapatra today made it clear that it is just a rumour.

In his media reactions today, the SJTA chief administrator said, “It is being observed for the last two days that a section of media has been carrying the report that the temple administration has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court swearing that the Sri Mandir will be managed by only 36 ‘sevaks’ (temple servitors).”

He elucidated, “I need to make it clear that there were 12 points in the Supreme Court’s order on the temple reformation. The first order was regarding abolishment of hereditary ‘seva’ (temple service) and appointment of the ‘sevaks’. In this context, frequent discussions have been held with the ‘sevaks’ at various points of time. The managing committee has also analyzed it. Temple administration, managing committee and the State Government are also unanimous in their opinion. The affidavit has been filed in the light of the recommendation made by the 3-member committee headed by the former SJTA chief.”

He added, “It has been recommended in the 3-member committee report that the abolishment of ‘Seva Rights’ will tell against the temple rituals. Hence, the hereditary right has to remain. But, the number of the ‘sevaks’ will be reduced. It has been disclosed before the media earlier also. In order to limit the number of ‘sevaks’, both the amicus curiae have, meanwhile, visited here twice.”

He further explained, “In the next part of our affidavit we have submitted that the age of the ‘sevaks’ and their number are to be determined through the SJTA chief or the learned District Judge, Puri for which the Supreme Court has been urged to authorize. Nowhere in the affidavit have we mentioned that there would be specifically 36 ‘sevaks’ as minimum 90 ‘sevaks’ are serving for the daily rituals. Is the temple administration a fool to specify the number? Those who will be abolished, they will be duly compensated. The stand of the managing committee is as same as with that of the State Government.”

“Such an exercise had been done earlier by the former Governor of Odisha B.D. Sharma. This report has been enclosed with our affidavit submitted with the Supreme Court,” averred the SJTA chief.    

Notably, the servitors of Puri Jagnnath Temple boycotted the ‘Chhatisa Nijog’ meeting summoned by the SJTA here today. The meeting was convened to deliberate on the issue of the number of servitors required to perform the daily rituals in the temple. The servitors alleged that the SJTA has already submitted a report with the Supreme Court suggesting the new count of priests without consulting the servitors.

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Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra, SJTA Chief, Odisha