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Orissa High Court Disposes Pending Case Challenging Puri Jagannath Temple Corridor Project In View Of Supreme Court Decision

Jyoti Prakash Dutta
24 Jun 2022 3:33 AM GMT
Orissa High Court Disposes Pending Case Challenging Puri Jagannath Temple Corridor Project In View Of Supreme Court Decision
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The Orissa High Court has disposed of the pending writ petition challenging Puri Shree Jagannath Temple Corridor Project, in view of the recent decision of the Apex Court in Ardhendu Kumar Das v. State of Odisha. Notably, in that case, the Supreme Court dismissed two petitions filed against some construction works undertaken by the Odisha Government in the adjacent area of...

The Orissa High Court has disposed of the pending writ petition challenging Puri Shree Jagannath Temple Corridor Project, in view of the recent decision of the Apex Court in Ardhendu Kumar Das v. State of Odisha. Notably, in that case, the Supreme Court dismissed two petitions filed against some construction works undertaken by the Odisha Government in the adjacent area of the centuries-old holy shrine. Not only those petitions were dismissed, but heavy costs of one lakh each were imposed on both the petitioners.

While disposing of the case, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik categorically stated,

"In view of the above observations of the Supreme Court of India in the aforementioned order dated 3rd June, 2022 concerning the present writ petition i.e., W.P.(C) No.6257 of 2022, it is not possible for this Court to continue to entertain the said petition as a PIL."

Facts of the Case:

The Government of Odisha had convened a project to re-develop the adjacent areas of Shree Jagannath Temple so as to establish a heritage corridor. The petitioners challenged the said project through a writ petition in the High Court. They had alleged that the Government of Odisha was doing unauthorized construction works, which were posing serious threats to the structure of the ancient Temple of Lord Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannath.

According to them, the State Government was trying to make some constructions by excavating through heavy excavators more than 30 feet depth from the ground level, exactly adjacent to the western side of Meghanad Pacheri (the boundary wall of the temple), which is an integral part of the Temple. Further, it was alleged that cracks were found in the temple and its wall due to such excavations.

On 9th May 2022, during hearing of the case before the High Court, the Archaeological Survey of India ('ASI') had submitted that it had not granted any valid permission to the Government for the construction works near the Temple.

Then, the Advocate General of Odisha had assured that the State Government will work in cooperation with the ASI for all works undertaken at the Parikrama site. Accordingly, the Court had directed that the State Government will keep in view the observations of the ASI when it undertakes any further works at the site. It required the State Government to file affidavit in response to the affidavit of the ASI before 20th June, 2022 and listed the matter to 22nd June for further hearing.

However, in the meantime, a Special Leave Petition ('SLP') was filed before the Supreme Court against the above order of the High Court refusing to stay the construction works at the site.

In the Apex Court, the petitioners had submitted that Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri has been declared a monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 ('AMASR Act'), through a Gazette Notification dated 3rd February 1975 and under Section 19(1) of the AMASR Act, no person including the owner-occupier can construct any building within the protected area. It was argued that Section 20A of AMASR Act is clear about the fact that there cannot be any construction within the 100 meters distance of the prohibited area.

However, terming the petitions as frivolous and contrary to public interest, the Supreme Court dismissed them with cost of Rupees one lakh each. It also made strong remarks against the petitioners.

"We highly deprecate practice of filing such frivolous petitions. They are nothing but abuse of process of law. They encroach upon a valuable judicial time which could be otherwise utilized for considering genuine issues. It is high time that such so ­called public interest litigations are nipped in the bud so that the developmental activities in the larger public interest are not stalled", the bench noted.

Case Title: Dillip Kumar Baral v. State of Odisha & Ors.

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 105

Case No.: W.P.(C) No. 6257 of 2022

Order Dated: 22nd June 2022

Coram: Dr. S. Muralidhar, CJ. & R.K. Pattanaik, J.

Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr. A.K. Mohapatra, Mr. Jagyan Balk Mohanty & Dr. Janmejaya Ray, Advocates

Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. Ashok Kumar Parija, Advocate General along with Mr. Debakanta Mohanty, Additional Government Advocate, Mr. P.K. Parhi, Assistant Solicitor General of India and Mr. D. Tripathy, Central Government Counsel

Click Here To Read/Download Order



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