SC junks pleas alleging illegal construction at Jagannath temple by Odisha govt

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New Delhi, June 3

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain petitions claiming illegal construction and excavation at the Shree Jagannath temple in Puri by the Odisha government.

A vacation bench comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Hima Kohli criticised the PIL petitioners for wasting court's time with frivolous petitions and also pointed out that in the recent past there has been a mushrooming growth in the PILs. "We deprecate the practice of filing such PILsa. It's a waste of judicial time and it needs to be nipped in the bud so that development work is not stalled…," said the bench.

The bench added that many such petitions are either publicity interest litigation or personal interest litigation.

During the hearing senior advocate Mahalakshmi Pavani, representing the petitioner, submitted before a vacation bench that no construction can be carried out in the prohibited area at the temple and the state government got NOC from the National Monuments Authority (NMA) and carried out the construction. She argued that only director archaeology either at central or state level could grant a valid certificate, and not the NMA.

Advocate General (AG) for Odisha Ashok Kumar Parija contended before the bench that NMA is the authority under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. He added that the state government's director culture is the competent authority, which gave the permission, and the government plans to provide amenities and beautification of the temple. Parija pointed out that renovation of an existing structure or building, or maintenance and cleansing of drains and similar conveniences, and maintenance of works meant for providing supply of water for the public do not fall under the ambit of construction.

After hearing the detailed arguments in the matter, the top court on Thursday said it will pronounce the order on Friday. Petitioner Ardhendu Kumar Das and others have moved the top court alleging illegal excavation and construction work carried out by the state government at the temple. The plea alleged that the state government is carrying out unauthorised construction work, which is a threat to the structure of the temple.


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